Athletic Hall of Fame

Bob Parks

Bob Parks

Sport(s): Track

Graduating Class: 1952

Induction Class: 1980

In 1967, Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States, U.S. troops were being sent to Vietnam, the Beatles were still taking America by storm and Bob Parks was the new cross country and track coach at Eastern Michigan. After 34 years, a lot of things changed. The U.S. pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, Johnson died in 1973 and the Beatles broke up in 1970, not to mention only two of them are still alive. After 34 years, Parks retired as one of the most successful coaches at EMU. During his career, Eastern Michigan cross country compiled a dual-meet record of 132-24-1 for a .843 winning percentage. EMU was 75-16 (.824) in MAC action and has won nine MAC titles (1973, 1974, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2000). The Eagles went undefeated 11 times ( 1970, 1972, 1973, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994) in dual meet action during his tenure. They competed just as well on a national level. In his first five years, Parks led Eastern to the NAIA and/or NCAA Division II Championship meet every year and won the 1967 and 1970 NAIA National Championship and the 1970 NCAA Division II National title. After joining the MAC and moving up to the NCAA Division I status in 1972, EMU won two district championships ( 1973, 1974) and qualified for the NCAA Championship meet seven times with the best finish coming in 1974 with a sixth place finish. Parks' teams qualified for a national championship meet (NAIA, NCAA I, II) nine times in his first 10 years. Eastern also won seven Central Collegiate Conference crowns and nine Michigan Intercollegiate Championships. Parks was named MAC Coach of the Year seven times (1973, 1973, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2000), was five-time CCC Coach of the Year (1973, 1974, 1985, 1995, 1997) and twice honored as NCAA District Coach of the Year (1973, 1974). The 78-year-old Parks (9-6-30) was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., and grew up in Howell Mich. At Howell High School, he played football, basketball, baseball and track and was the Michigan high School Class B State Champion in the 440-yard dash. He was a three-time letterwinner in track at Michigan Normal College (now EMU), won the 1952 IIAC 880-yard run and was a member of the mile relay team that held the school record for 14 years. He began his coaching career at Ferndale High School in 1952 and also coached at DeWitt High School and Redford Thurston H.S. from 1954-61, until joining the Western Michigan University track and cross country staff as an assistant coach in 1961 where he helped the Broncos to numerous MAC and CCC titles, as well as two NCAA Division I Championships in cross country. Parks left Western Michigan in January 1967, to return to his alma mater as head coach. Parks is married to the former Pat Greene, who is retired from the EMU Chemistry Department. They have four children, Nancy, Susan, Steve and Scott. Sue is the current head coach of the women's cross country and track and field programs at Eastern, while Scott is the athletic director and head men's and women's track and cross country coach at Seminole Ridge High School in Palm Beach County, Fla.

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