Courtesy: Iowa State Athletics
November 23, 2022 &nbsp

EDITORS’ NOTE: Both the graphic and the following article were kindly provided by the Iowa State Athletic Department.

AMES, Iowa – Bill Bergan, former Iowa State track and cross country coach who architect the Cyclone track and cross country dynasty in the 1980s and early 1990s, passed away today. He was 80 years old.

“While Bill Bergan will be remembered as one of the most accomplished coaches in Iowa State history, he will also be remembered as one of the kindest, most competitive and humble people I have ever met,” said ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard. “Bill was a legend in our industry and his influence on our program is still felt today.”

During his incredible Iowa career (1971-1995), Bergan’s student-athletes earned 110 All-America Honors and 163 Big Eight Conference singles titles. He won 25 Big Eight Conference team championships (cross country, indoor, outdoor) and reached the pinnacle of his sport twice, leading the state of Iowa to the NCAA cross country team titles in 1989 and 1994.

Bergan became Iowa State’s men’s head cross country coach in 1971 and took over the men’s track and field program in 1976, giving both programs immediate credibility. By the time he gained control of the ISU cross-country program, the ISU had ended up in the lower league of the Big Eight meeting for the past 11 seasons. The Cyclones finished last or second to bottom in 21 consecutive Big Eight Conference outdoor meetings prior to his arrival.

Bergan’s quest to build a successful tradition in the state of Iowa has yielded amazing results. The cross country team won its first Big Eight title in 43 years in 1974 and then went on to win five consecutive crowns from 1987-1991. From 1981 to 1994, he led the Cyclone cross-country team to 10 Big Eight championships.

Nationally, Iowa State finished in the top three at the NCAA Cross Country Championship a total of five times (1989-1St; 1990-2nd1991-2nd1993-3approx1994-1St).

The Cyclones under Bergan were also one of the Midwest’s premier athletics programs, winning 15 Big Eight indoor and outdoor titles during his tenure, including six Big Eight outdoor crowns from 1981-1988.

Under Bergan’s leadership, national teams produced top athletes. He coached 16 Olympians, including Danny Harris and Sunday Uti, both of whom won medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Harris also won the silver medal at the 1987 World Championships in the 400 meter hurdles and became the first man to defeat Edwin Moses in a running race in Madrid in 1987 since 1977.

Harris, who won three NCAA outdoor 400-meter hurdle titles, was one of eight mountain athletes to win an individual NCAA state championship in Iowa: Gareth Brown (800m), Jon Brown (5,000m), Scott Crowell (discus), Jonah Koech (5000m, cross country), John Nuttall (cross country), Brian Tietjens (high jump) and Bob Verbeeck (1,500m)

Bergan was inducted into the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984 and was named National Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1983. He received the same honor in 1986 for athletics. The Drake Relays Hall of Famer has been named Big Eight Cross Country Coach of the Year five times in eight years.

An Iowa State Athletics Hall of Famer (2001) and US Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Famer (2006), Bergan was instrumental in developing the ISU Cross Country Course, one of the nation’s first cross country courses at the Campus international venues. The state-of-the-art layout has hosted two NCAA Cross Country Championships (1995, 2000).

A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Bergan graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1965. Before joining the Cyclones, he was the head track and field coach at Waterloo Columbus High School from 1965 to 1971.

The State of Iowa honored Bergan in 2012 by inaugurating its new track and field facility as the Bill and Karen Bergan Track at the Cyclone Sports Complex. A statue of Bergan raising one of his many Big Eight championship trophies welcomes visitors at the entrance.

Bergan is survived by his wife Karen and children Jody, Dan, Mike and Amy.