PEMBROKE, N.C. – After a storied 30-year coaching career that included 10 appearances at the national championships, six conference titles and a pair of district titles, UNC-Pembroke track and field coach Larry Rodgers announced his retirement on Tuesday.
“Larry has epitomized what Pembroke is all about with the way he has carried himself in his profession and personal life,” said UNCP director of athletics Dan Kenney. “We wish Larry the best and hope that we can find a way to tap into his talents as a new retiree. We will never be able to say thank you for all that he has done for UNC Pembroke.”
Rodgers joined the UNCP coaching family as a rookie head coach in 1981-82. His retirement will be effective on July 1, 2011. He completed his 30th season as head coach in 2011 and helped lead the UNCP men’s track and field team to a 38th-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Turlock, Calif. – the highest national finish for the squad since 1985. His most recent campaign was also headlined by a Southeast Region Head Coach of the Year honor from the United States Track & Field And Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
UNCP athletes have taken home 32 All-America awards under Rodgers, including two by senior Maurice Eubanks in 2011. The long list of individual athletic accomplishments for his athletes also includes 99 All-Carolinas Conference selections, 48 all-district nods and 25 all-region honors. He was also at the helm of the UNCP program in 1982 when former Braves standout Garry Henry captured national championships in both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter run.
The men’s track and field squads boasted vast success from 1982 under Rodgers, capturing first or second place in both the Carolinas Conference and NAIA District 26 meets in seven seasons, including six consecutive league crowns from 1982 to 1987. The Braves posted runner-up finishes in the district meet from 1982-85 before capturing back-to-back district crowns in 1986 and 1987.
As the UNCP men’s and women’s cross country coach (1981 to 2008), Rodgers skippered the Braves to seven district titles, 14 regional appearances and a trio of trips to the national championships. During that time, he also mentored his athletes to 38 all-district, 38 all-conference, one all-region and one All-American honor. His men’s team posted a pair of runner-up finishes at the Peach Belt Conference Championships (1992, 2005), while his women’s teams accomplished that same feat on one occasion (2005) as well.
Rodgers was a 1972 All-American and three-time all-district performer in track and field as a student-athlete at Pembroke State from 1968 to 1973 and still holds the school record in the 600-yard dash (1:14.9) and another program-best mark as a member of the sprint medley relay team (3:42.4). He was a part of four NAIA District 29 championship squads under his mentor and UNCP Hall of Famer Dr. Ed Crain.