ABILENE, Texas - Barbara Crousen – McMurry University's venerable and history-making track and field coach who guided McM to a pair of NCAA championships – confirmed last night that she is planning to retire at the conclusion of this year. That would make this weekend's (May 1-3) Lone Star Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, the final event for the 16-year McM head coach and veteran of nearly a half-century of involvement with track and field, overall.
Crousen made the announcement live on the radio during the "McMurry Monday Coaches Show." She cited recent issues with her vision as a main reason for her decision. She has had multiple eye surgeries in the past year, alone.
"It's just one of those situations where I had to make a decision based on what was best for me, personally, as well as for the McMurry track program," Crousen explained. "I realized that I need to take it easy to give myself the chance to heal properly. I want to be able to see and enjoy my grandchildren."
Most recently, Crousen led the War Hawks' men's team to the 2012 NCAA III Outdoor National Championship, the second in school history and both under her guidance. She will go down in McMurry history as the first head coach - since it began intercollegiate athletics competition in 1923 - to lead a team of any kind to a national championship, after also guiding McM's men to the NCAA III Outdoor National Championship in 2008.
Since taking over the program in the summer of 1998, Crousen has helped McMurry become a consistent track power in the region and nationally.
Since her first season in 1999, Crousen led the men's team to 14-consecutive American Southwest Conference titles (1999-2012), exiting the conference in 2012 having never surrendered the men's championship trophy. The McM women's team won 10 ASC championships (1999-2004, 2006-2009) under Crousen's guidance.
Her teams have a total of 10 top-four national finishes.
Crousen was named the ASC's men's Coach of the Year all 14 seasons and was named the women's ASC Coach of the Year 10 times.
In 2012, Crousen received the nation's highest honor for the second time when she was named as the Men's National Coach of the Year for NCAA Division III. She was also named the men's NCAA III South/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, marking the ninth time she has earned that honor.
Crousen earned NCAA Division III Women's National Coach of the Year in 2001, as well. The women's program finished fourth overall at the national outdoor meet in 2001 and followed in 2002 as the national runner up.
244 all-America honors have been passed out to McMurry athletes since Crousen's tenure began in 1999, including 29 alone in 2012. 24 McM student-athletes have earned national academic honors and she's coached 61 national champions between indoor and outdoor competitions. She also coached the South Region Athlete of the Year 15 times including four-time winner Hann Ollison (2006-09) and two-time recipient Kevin Cunningham (2011 & 2012).
Among Crousen's impressive career accomplishments are more than 200 conference champions, better than 200 additional all-conference finishers and 100-plus academic all-conference honorees.
A renowned clinician throughout the Lone Star state and well respected by her peers, Crousen is USA Track and Field Level I certified in the sport, certified in USA TF Level II for sprints and hurdles and a USATF Level I Lead Instructor.
She has been published in the Texas High School Coaches Association Magazine and has produced four track-related videos detailing tips on coaching and improving athletes' performance. She has had five athletes attend the USA Junior Elite Olympics Training Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Diego, Calif.
Before coming to McMurry, Crousen worked in the Texas public school system for 32 years including a stint as Cooper High School's head track and cross country coach in Abilene. She also worked in the El Paso, Deer Park and Pasadena districts.
While working in the public school system, Crousen rolled up some impressive accolades, as well. She was the 1990 TGCA All-Star Coach and served as the TGCA's president in 1993. In 1995, she was the Abilene ISD Physical Educator of the Year and the TGCA track Coach of the Year.
Crousen was the National Federation State Director in 1996-97 and National Federation Track Coach of the Year in 1998. She has had five athletes attend the USA Junior Elite Olympic Training Center. In 2005, she was name a TGCA Honor Coach.
Crousen was recognized for a lifetime of achievements and contributions at both the high school and collegiate levels, when she was inducted into the Texas Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a part of its Class of 2012.
She was also elected to the Big Country Hall of Fame in 2013. Her late husband Joe was a 2012 Big Country HOF selection, making them the first husband-wife combo to be enshrined. She was put into the Sul Ross State University (her Alma Mater) Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, as well.
"My husband Joe always told me that – when you retire from coaching – the biggest thing you miss are the ‘highs and lows' associated with competition," reflected Crousen. "I'm not sure what it will be like having things at an even keel in my life!"
Information for this story provided by McMurry Staff.