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ISU Mourns Death Of 'Legend, Mentor' John Coughlan

Coach shows timer to two student athletes
Illinois State athletics
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John Coughlan, right, coached 291 individual conference champions at Illinois State University.

One of the most decorated coaches in Illinois State University athletics history has died.

John Coughlan coached ISU to 25 Missouri Valley Conference championships in cross country and track and field. He also mentored 291 individual champions during his 23 seasons coaching the men and eight seasons coaching the women.

Coughlan died June 17 at Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal surrounded by family, according to ISU athletics. He was 80.

“Coach Coughlan is a legend in the sport of track and field and cross country and has mentored generations of coaches across the country,” said ISU director of track and field/cross country Jeff Bovee. “His passing is being felt deeply by scores of Redbird alumni and staff near and far. He was generous to so many in his mentorship and friendship and stayed in tune with the landscape of the sport well past his time as the head coach of the Redbirds."

Coughlan guided 37 All-Americans, helped five Redbird athletes to the U.S. Olympic trials and was a 24-time Valley Coach of the Year. He retired in 2000.

Coughlan was inducted into the ISU Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame in 1993, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 1997 and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006. The MVC inducted Coughlan into its hall of fame in 2009.

Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Thursday at Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington. Coughlan's memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at East White Oak Bible Church, Carlock.

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