Former coach inducted to Hall of Fame

The MIAA has announced it is bestowing another major honor on retired Missouri Southern track and field and cross country coach Tom Rutledge this June when they induct him into their Hall of Fame. This will be Rutledge’s third Hall of Fame induction. He became a member of the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008 and entered the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

“The name Tom Rutledge is synonymous with Missouri Southern cross country and track and field; he built these programs from scratch,” said current head coach Bryan Schiding. “He was able to take these programs from meager beginnings to one of the most dominating programs in conference history.”

After coming to Southern in March 1988 as an assistant football coach, Rutledge was tapped by Jim Frazier, director of athletics, to create the track and field and cross country programs. He went on to lead the Lions to a total of 10 MIAA men’s championships, eight in cross country and two in indoor track. Rutledge also guided his men’s cross country team to three top eight national finishes.

During his career, Rutledge was named Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year five times and Indoor Coach of the Year twice. He was also recognized as South Central Region Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year three times and South Central Region Cross Country Coach of the Year once. In addition, Rutledge designed and built the cross country course on campus that now bears his name.

“Tom was one of the most passionate coaches I’ve ever had,” said senior Eric Schott. “When you were at practice, he was going to get the most out of you that he could one way or the other. He was also all about his athletes. Outside of practice, we were all Tom’s children, and he would have done anything for any of us.”

Rutledge has coached four national champions, eight cross country All-Americans, 58 track and field All-Americans and many academic All-Americans. In 2005, Southern pole vaulters swept the top five places in the MIAA Outdoor meet and the top three spots in the national outdoor meet.

“Coach Rutledge was a father figure to most athletes on the team; he was a real old school kind of coach,” said senior Darion Boure. “He was a very intense man but was also very caring; he would always tell you the truth.”

Rutledge’s induction ceremony will take place June 3, 2015, at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch’s Truman Forum Auditorium.