Document Type


Publication Date



With a career spanning from 1950 to 1994, Tennessee State University and U.S. Olympic Coach Edward Stanley “Ed” Temple (1927-2016) is arguably the greatest track and field coach of all time. He produced 40 Olympians who competed in games between 1952 (Helsinki, Finland) and 1984 (Los Angeles), with 35 representing the United States and five others competing for other native countries including Panama, Jamaica, Bermuda, and Trinidad. Beyond their unprecedented athletic successes, Temple was most proud of the fact that all 40 eventually received one or more academic degrees, as well as hundreds of other “TSU Tigerbelles” affiliated with his track program. Collectively, his Olympians won 23 medals for the U.S. (13 gold, 6 silver, and 4 bronze; there are nations that have never won an Olympic medal in any sport), and include the global sports icon Wilma Rudolph and other gold medalists including Wyomia Tyus; Mae Faggs; Edith McGuire; Barbara Jones; Madeline Manning; Lucinda Williams; Martha Hudson, and Chandra Cheeseborough, who succeeded Temple as coach upon his retirement.

This paper and presentation seek to highlight “the man behind the legend”, who remained humble, approachable, and often unrecognized despite numerous achievements and accolades including induction into eleven different sports halls of fame (most notably the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame as its first African American coach and first track and field coach). Temple was able to literally “walk with kings, yet not lose the common touch”, meeting royalty, several U.S. presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama) and numerous other dignitaries and celebrities during his long life, but also living a quiet and more or less ordinary existence away from the sports world as a church-going family man, professor, and “father figure” to generations of young people beyond the women student-athletes he developed over more than four decades of coaching.