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Daniel Wilco | | July 24, 2019

The 7 college coaches with the most Division I national championships

College Football: Greatest Coaches | High Five

With over 90 sports and a history that spans three centuries, there have been quite a lot of championships up for grabs in the history of Division I athletics. 

And with more than 1,000 member institutions and athletes that can only play for four years at most, it also means it's pretty hard for schools to fill their trophy cases.

Across all Division I sports, in both genders, (excluding National Collegiate sports), only seven coaches have amassed 15 or more national championships. Here they are:

MORE DI HISTORY: The schools with the most Division I championships

(We compiled this list from the official NCAA record books, which can be found here)

7. Dan Gable, Iowa — 15

Dan Gable, Iowa

15 — Division I Wrestling (1978-97)

After serving as an assistant to Gary Kurdelmeier for four years, Dan Gable took the helm at Iowa in 1976 and propelled the Hawkeyes to the peak of the sport for good. Before that season, there was no question who the dominant force in wrestling was. Oklahoma State had won 26 of the first 48 titles, and only Oklahoma and Iowa State had captured more than one. In the next 20 years, under Gable, Iowa would win 15 titles, and the Hawkeyes wouldn’t slow down after he left, capturing three more from 1998-2000, and another trio from 2008-2010.

MORE WRESTLING: The college wrestling head coaches who had the best NCAA wrestling careers

6. Dave Williams, Houston — 16

Dave Williams, Houston

16 — Division I Men’s Golf (1956-85)

When Dave Williams retired from Houston in 1987, only three schools had captured more than 5 collegiate golf titles in the 85-year history of the sport: Yale and Princeton — who had hogged the sport’s championships from the first national title in 1897 until the 1930s — and Houston, which won its first championship under Williams in 1956, and then took 11 of the next 14.

T5. Ted Banks, UTEP — 17

Ted Banks, UTEP

6 — Division I Men’s Cross Country (1976-82)
6 — Division I Men’s Indoor Track and Field (1974-81)
5 — Division I Men’s Outdoor Track and Field (1975-81)

Before Ted Banks, UTEP had been to just one national championship across men’s cross country, indoor, and outdoor track — in 1969, when they won their first title. Under Banks, the Miners would go to 22, winning 17. Banks would also capture two elusive triple crowns at UTEP, winning the men’s cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and field titles in the same season during 1979-80 and 1980-81.

T5. Dick Gould, Stanford — 17

Dick Gould, Stanford

17 — Division I Men’s Tennis (1973-2000)

Over 38 years coaching Stanford, Dick Gould led his team to a 776-148 record, for a winning percentage of .840. For 35 years, every four-year member of Stanford’s tennis team earned at least one NCAA team championship ring. Gould produced 50 All-Americans during his tenure at Stanford, including John McEnroe, Gene Mayer, Alex Mayer, Roscoe Tanner, and Tim Mayotte.

3. Anson Dorrance, North Carolina — 21

Anson Dorrance, North Carolina

21 — Division I Women’s Soccer (1982-2012)

No Division I coach has won more titles with one team than Anson Dorrance. It started when his Tar Heels won the very first Division I women’s soccer championship in 1982. From that year until 2012 — a period of 31 years — UNC would win 21 championships, and never go more than two years without a title. So yes, that meant if you were a women’s soccer player at North Carolina at any point between 1982 and 2012, and you played for four years, you were “guaranteed” at the very least one national championship. Not a bad deal. Though Dorrance has a long way to go to catch second place in this list, he is one of just two active Division I coaches with more than 15 wins. The bad news? The other is...

2. Pat Henry, LSU/Texas A&M — 35

Pat Henry, Texas A&M

12 — Division I Women’s Outdoor Track and Field (LSU 1988-2003)
10 — Division I Women’s Indoor Track and Field (LSU, 1988-2003)
3 — Division I Men’s Outdoor Track and Field (LSU, 1989-2002)
2 — Division I Men’s Indoor Track and Field (LSU, 2001-04)
4 — Division I Women’s Outdoor Track and Field (Texas A&M, 2009-14)
3 — Division I Men’s Outdoor Track and Field (Texas A&M, 2009-11)
1 — Division I Men’s Indoor Track and Field (Texas A&M, 2017)

Pat Henry hit the ground running in Baton Rouge. In 1988, his first season with the Tigers, Henry led the women’s outdoor track and field team to what would be the first of 10 straight national championships. They’d also see plenty of success on the indoor track. Before 1987, no women’s team had ever won both the indoor and outdoor championships in the same year. LSU did it seven times under Henry. When Henry left LSU, the Tigers’ entire athletic program had a total of 41 NCAA titles. He had coached 25 of those. He would go on to add eight more national titles at Texas A&M, where is he still coaching.

1.  John McDonnell, Arkansas — 40

John McDonnell, Arkansas

19 — Men’s Indoor Track and Field (1984-2006)
11 — Men’s Cross Country (1984-2000)
10 — Men’s Outdoor Track and Field% (1984-2003)

There are few coaches in the history of sports that come close to what John McDonnell achieved at Arkansas. From 1984-2000 — a span of 17 years — at least one of McDonnell’s three teams brought home a national championship. The former six-time All-American in track and cross country at Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette), was selected to three different national halls of fame, and received National Coach of the Year honors 30 times in his career. It’s no wonder the Razorbacks now run on John McDonnell Field.

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