Clyde Hart (1934–)

Clyde Hart was one of the nation’s leading track and field coaches. Serving as the head coach at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for just over four decades, Hart coached numerous Olympians, whose accomplishments, especially in the 400 meters, helped Baylor earn the nickname “Quarter-Miler U.”

Clyde Hart was born on February 3, 1934, in Eudora (Chicot County) to Clyde T. Hart and Erma Lee Brymer Hart. He grew up in Hot Springs (Garland County), where his father was a Baptist minister. A standout runner in high school, Hart was a five-time state cross country and track and field championship winner.

He originally planned to attend Louisiana State University, but having met a number of Baylor University student-athletes who attended his father’s church, he decided to attend the Baptist college after learning he could receive a scholarship. It was the beginning of a lifelong association with the school. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1956 and worked a year in business before undertaking a six-year stint as a teacher and coach at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County).

Hart’s first day on the job at Central was September 4, 1957, the day the Little Rock Nine first tried to attend classes at the school. Years later, he still recalled the thousands of protesters who surrounded Central in an effort to keep the Little Rock Nine out. He also remembered the additional responsibilities that he and his colleagues assumed the next year when the school was closed (the “Lost Year”) and they were called upon to substitute in junior high or elementary schools, among other tasks. In Hart’s case, his duties included checking for bombs in response to one of the almost fifty bomb threats that were called into Central High that school year. Hart noted that his work as a substitute would later pay dividends when the students reached high school, but the bomb duty was not something he recalled with joy.

While coaching at Central, Hart also earned a master’s degree in education in 1962 from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The following year, he returned to Baylor, where he became the head coach of the track and field team. It was a position he would hold for forty-two years until 2005, when he became the director of track and field. He coached thirty-four national champions, 561 All-Americans, and nine Olympic athletes whose efforts yielded a combined total of seventeen medals—thirteen of them gold.

Hart is particularly well known for his work with 400-meter sprinters whose extraordinary efforts resulted in the university being labeled “Quarter Mile U.” Led by such track legends as Michael Johnson, who earned his BBA in 1991, and Jeremy Wariner, the men’s 4×400-meter relay teams coached by Hart earned outdoor All-America status in twenty-six of the last twenty-nine years of his tenure, while winning a total of twenty NCAA titles combined in indoors and outdoors.

Hart was named to serve on the U.S. Olympic team staff while also being the recipient of numerous national coach-of-the-year awards. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) named Hart the 2009 International Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame, among others. The track and field facility that Baylor opened in 2015 is named the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium.

Hart and his wife Maxine Burton Hart, a professor emeritus of information systems at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, have two sons.

For additional information:
Brice, Cherry. “Clyde Hart Recalls Little Rock’s ‘Lost Year’ in Wake of Virus Outbreak.” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 1, 2020. Online at (accessed May 30, 2023).

“Clyde Hart.” BU Track and Field. (accessed May 30, 2023).

“Clyde Hart Retiring after 56 Years Coaching Baylor Track & Field.” Baylor Proud, June 5, 2019. (accessed May 30, 2023).

“Distinguished Achievement Award: Clyde Hart Jr.” Baylor Magazine (Fall 2014). (accessed May 30, 2023).

William H. Pruden III
Ravenscroft School


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