Longtime Rose track coach Larry Cole announces retirement

Mar. 5—Thirty-five conference championships is a tall bar to clear.

Like many of his high jumpers on the track, Rose-Hulman track and field coach Larry Cole topped that bar in his coaching career.

Now the most decorated coach in Rose-Hulman athletics history will retire following the upcoming spring season. Cole has announced he plans to step down after 21 years at the eastside engineering college.

A national search for Cole's successor will begin later this spring, according to a Rose news release.

Cole's historic run has produced 35 conference championship team titles including both indoor championships two weeks ago in Terre Haute. His men's teams have earned a record 27 championships with a stretch of 24 consecutive first-place finishes from 2008-2021. His women's squads have recorded eight conference crowns, including five out of the past seven indoor titles.

"I'm so grateful for coach Larry's leadership and guidance since I started here at Rose-Hulman," Athletic Director Ayanna Tweedy said. "His dedication to track and field and the overall development of his athletes are timeless. Coach Larry's legacy will live on forever on and off the track. I want to personally thank coach Larry for his wisdom and knowledge."

Cole has earned 33 HCAC Coach of the Year honors. During his tenure at Rose-Hulman, his student-athletes have combined for 338 individual and relay conference champions. Since his first year in 2003 at the Institute, Cole's women have rewritten all 22 indoor and 21 outdoor school records while the men have produced 29 new marks during the era. In addition to the HCAC accomplishments, the program has produced 21 NCAA All-American awards. His teams at Muskingum and Ohio Northern earned an additional 48 All-American honors.

"We will sure miss Larry's leadership and commitment to Rose-Hulman. He has done it all, both here at Rose-Hulman, and beyond," said Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Erik Hayes. "I am so grateful for his commitment to our students. He has consistently won conference championships, has hosted national track and field championships, cornered the market on coach of the year awards and has even served as our athletic director."

Cole's efforts helped Rose-Hulman land the hosting role for the 2007 and 2009 NCAA Division III indoor track and field national championships and the 2012 and upcoming 2024 cross country championships. He previously served as the meet director for the 1995 NCAA Division III indoor track and field nationals at Ohio Northern. During his career at Ohio Northern and Rose-Hulman, Cole created the popular Friday Night Spikes Series. The meets featured colleges from across the Midwest with standing-room-only crowds and convenient home contests for Rose's large rosters of student-athletes.

"Simply put, Larry Cole made HCAC track and field better," said Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner Jay Jones. "I appreciate the dedication, time, and care that he put into his own programs, but also, his willingness to put that same level of caring into every league event conducted during his tenure. Larry will be missed every time the starter pistol fires in the HCAC, but the baton will pass and our events will remain at a top level because of the standard of excellence he demanded we have."

Cole's tenure in Terre Haute has been a family affair. His oldest son, Matthew, served his father as an assistant coach for eight years. Middle son, Braden, who is currently associate director of Rose's Sports and Recreation Center, has been a valued official for all home meets. Cole's youngest son, Alex, competed on the men's team for two years while attending Rose-Hulman. Cole's wife, Cathy, has served the program in many roles. Most prominently she is known throughout the Midwest as DIII's finest meet hostess providing meals for officials at all home contests. Throughout the years she has been a team mother for literally hundreds of student-athletes. The couple has been married for 43 years and have five grandchildren.

"The past 40-plus years have been a remarkable journey for our family," Cole said. "Cathy and I have enjoyed our relationships with so many outstanding colleagues and friends in the college communities of Rose-Hulman, Ohio Northern University and Muskingum University. The student-athletes have been a joy to coach. I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by outstanding assistant coaches, officials, and peers. We have been blessed."

Cole plans to stay active in the sports of track and field and cross country. He is a certified USATF official and hopes to assist several schools and conferences with specific meet organization duties. He also hopes to assist in a role at Terre Haute's gem, the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. He is currently meet director for this fall's NCAA DIII cross country championships.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or