MURFRESBORO, TN (WSMV) – Middle Tennessee State lost a key member of its athletic program this week.
Legendary track coach and former Olympian Dean Hayes passed away on Friday afternoon at the age of 84, the school announced.
The school said he died peacefully at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital with family by his side.
MTSU president, Sidney A. McPhee called Hayes a champion, mentor and role model.
"Dean Hayes was a champion in so many ways: As a father, mentor and role model, a world-class recruiter, and a winning coach at the highest echelons," said President McPhee. "Dean was a living legend. I speak for Elizabeth and my family, as well as all Blue Raiders, in expressing our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Jan and all of his family."
Hayes has guided MTSU’s track and field programs to 29 Ohio Valley Conference titles, 19 Sun Belt championships, 7 Conference USA titles, and 20 NCAA Top 25 finishes. Most recently, Hayes’s men and women’s teams swept the 2021 cross-country championships.
"Words can't express what Dean Hayes has meant to MTSU, the MTSU track and field program, international track and field, and the thousands of people whose lives he has impacted through his work," said Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. "He is on the Mount Rushmore of Middle Tennessee, and not just athletics. Coach Hayes was a pioneer and an institution at MTSU. He will be sorely missed by the community, the University, and all of his former and present student-athletes. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jan and his daughters Erin and Kara."
Hayes is survived by his wife, Jan, and daughters, Erin and Kara, and sister, Judy.
A family spokesperson indicated there will be a private funeral for family only, but plans are underway for a Celebration of Life that will be open to the public.
For more on the life and amazing career of Dean Hayes, you can see the full release here.