Tom Donnelly, Haverford’s Legendary Track and Cross Country Coach, to Retire
Donnelly’s career at Haverford spans an unprecedented 49 seasons and includes 77 Middle Atlantic and Centennial Conference championships and a 2010 NCAA Division III championship.
Haverford College men’s cross country and track & field Head Coach Tom Donnelly has announced his intention to retire following the 2023 fall semester, bringing a close to his legendary career.
Coach Donnelly's illustrious tenure spans an astounding 49 seasons and leaves an indelible mark on both Haverford College and the world of collegiate athletics.
“I am thrilled to have worked with Coach Tom for a moment in his life's work,” says Director of Athletics Danielle Lynch. “Prior to arriving at Haverford, I observed Coach Tom for many years as a coaching peer and legend. His boundless, positive impact on decades of student-athletes here at Haverford is clear. The College is forever grateful for his unwavering dedication to the personal, academic, and athletic success of his student-athletes for nearly 50 seasons.”
Donnelly, a 2014 inductee into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame, boasts a truly unparalleled record of achievement in the world of collegiate cross country and track & field. His tenure at Haverford has seen the program ascend to remarkable heights, with 77 Middle Atlantic and Centennial Conference championships, including an impressive 65 titles since 1993.
Under his guidance, Haverford athletes have amassed an astounding 176 cross country and track & field All-American awards since 1980, securing 29 individual NCAA championships and a championship relay team. Donnelly's crowning achievement came in 2010 when his cross country squad secured Haverford's first-ever NCAA team championship.
Coach Donnelly's legacy extends far beyond titles and accolades. Under his mentorship, three Haverford athletes have earned a place in the Division III Athlete Hall of Fame. The list includes Karl Paranya '97, a nine-time national champion and 15-time All-American who qualified for the 1996 and 2000 Olympic trials in the 1,500 meters.
Seamus McElligott ’91, another Hall of Famer, clinched NCAA championships in cross country, the indoor 5k, and the outdoor 5k and 10k events, even competing in the Division I Cross Country Championships. Kevin Foley '83 achieved the remarkable feat of three consecutive 1,500 meters championships from 1981-83 and still holds the Division III championship meet record in the event.
As the cross country coach, Coach Donnelly reached the pinnacle of coaching with Haverford's historic win in the 2010 NCAA Division III Championship, marking the College's first-ever team national championship. The 2010 championship season featured five All-American finishers, including NCAA Champion Anders Hulleberg ’11.
Donnelly's accomplishments were further recognized when he was named the 2010 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Coach of the Year.
Coach Donnelly's teams consistently excelled on the national stage, nearly replicating their championship feat in the 2011 and 2012 seasons with second-place finishes at the NCAA Championships, and a podium appearance as recently as 2018 when Haverford placed fourth as a team. The Fords have qualified as a team for the NCAA Cross Country Championships during each of the past 28 seasons, achieving a top-10 team finish on 18 occasions.
Donnelly's teams have also secured an impressive 39 All-American honors at the NCAA Championship Cross Country meet. In addition to Hulleberg's national championship, Seamus McElligott '91 and JB Haglund '02 claimed individual national titles. Under Coach Donnelly's guidance, the teams also amassed 33 conference championships and 24 regional championships.
Haverford indoor track & field experienced similar success under Coach Donnelly's leadership. A total of 66 All-Americans were crowned at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships, with 11 national championships, including the 2002 Distance Medley Relay team.
The most decorated individual, Karl Paranya ’97, secured five NCAA Indoor Championships, while other standouts like Matt Leighninger ’91 and Aaron Curry ’94 also claimed national titles. The tradition of excellence continued with the first relay team victory in 2002 and, most recently, Greg Morgan ’19's triumph in the 3,000-meter race at the 2019 indoor championships.
In the outdoor season, Coach Donnelly's impact was resounding. Haverford clinched 18 of the last 28 conference championships, with the most recent victory in 2013. His coaching prowess resulted in 72 individuals achieving All-American status during the spring season, with 15 of them becoming individual national champions.
Notably, Chris Stadler ’14 secured the 5,000 meters national championship in 2014, and Kevin Foley ’83 claimed the 1,500 meters national championship three times from 1981-83. Seamus McElligott continued to shine by winning both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter championships during the 1990 and 1991 championships, accumulating six national championships across three seasons.
Karl Paranya ’97's remarkable career included four national championships in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters and participation in the Olympic trials of 1996 and 2000 in the 1,500 meters. Paranya also achieved the distinction of running the first sub-4-minute mile (3:57.6) in NCAA Division III history during the 1997 season.
Coach Donnelly's legacy extended to a new generation, with Charlie Marquardt ’16 continuing the tradition of sub-4-minute miles just after his graduation. J.B. Haglund ’02 added two more championships in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in 2002, while Matt Leighninger secured the program's first steeplechase title in 1991.
Before his illustrious tenure at Haverford, Coach Donnelly himself was an All-American in cross country and track at Villanova University. He was a key contributor from 1966-69, helping lead the Wildcats to three consecutive NCAA Cross Country Championships and one NCAA Track & Field title.
In celebration of Tom’s legacy, the college is planning a larger retrospective of Tom's career later this semester. We invite the college community and friends to join us in honoring Tom’s remarkable contributions.
A full national search for the next head coach of the men’s cross country and track & field programs is underway.