Hall of Fame coach Mel Rosen, who served as the head coach for Team USATF at the 1987 IAAF World Championships and Team USA at the 1992 Olympic Games, died Sunday in Auburn, Alabama, at age 90.
A legend in the collegiate ranks after serving for 36 years at Auburn University, including 28 years at the helm of the program, Rosen led one of the most successful U.S. teams in modern Olympic history at Barcelona in 1992. Team USA's men won 20 medals, eight of them gold, and saw world record performances by Kevin Young in the 400m hurdles, and by the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
At Rome in 1987, the U.S. men won 14 medals, seven of them gold, and swept the relays.
Born on March 24, 1928, in the Bronx, New York, Rosen graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1946, and was a captain of the school's track and field team. He ran track at the University of Iowa, earning a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1950, and a master's in P.E. in 1951 while serving as a graduate assistant coach.
Following a stint in the U.S. Army, Rosen was hired at Auburn in 1955 by head coach Wilbur Hutsell, a 1975 USATF Hall of Fame inductee. Upon Hutsell's retirement in 1963, Rosen took over the program.
From 1977-80, the Tigers won four straight SEC indoor team championships, and also won the school's first SEC outdoor team title in 1979. Auburn placed fourth in the NCAA outdoor team standings in '79, and Rosen was named NCAA Coach of the Year.
During his storied career, Rosen coached seven Olympians, eight NCAA champions, 143 NCAA All-Americans, and 63 SEC champions. He was regarded as one of the top sprint coaches in the world, and was selected as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Active in USATF for many years, Rosen served as chair of the Men's Track and Field committee, and in 1994 was honored with the Robert Giegengack Award for outstanding service to the sport. The following year, in 1995, he was inducted into USATF National Track & Field Hall of Fame. He was president of the collegiate track coaches association in 1978-79, and was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2006, Auburn named its new facility the Hutsell-Rosen Track in his honor.
Rosen and his wife, Joan, who died in 2014, were married for 57 years and had two daughters, Laurie and Karen. Jeffcoat Trant Funeral Home in Opelika are handling arrangements.
A "Celebration of LIfe" will be held on April 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the Auburn United Methodist Church, 137. S. Gay Street, Auburn, AL, 36830. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Tigers Unlimited -- Track and Field Program (392 S. Donahue Drive, Auburn, AL 36830) with a note on the memo line that it is in memory of Coach Mel Rosen.