After 27 years at the helm of the South Carolina Track & Field and Cross Country program, legendary head coach Curtis Frye has announced his retirement effective June 30, it was announced today.
"It's the end of an era," said Athletics Director Ray Tanner. "Curtis Frye has become synonymous with Gamecock Track & Field for nearly 30 years. Curtis led his squad to the first NCAA team championship in school history and consistently mentored highly successful student-athletes who excelled both on and off the track. We wish Curtis and his wife, Wilma, all the best as they transition to the next stage of their lives."
During his long and storied career, Frye has coached or overseen 28 Olympians who have garnered 14 Olympic medals, 60 NCAA Champions, 126 SEC Champions, more than 500 NCAA All-Americans and 21 Academic All-Americans. He coached 14 SEC Athletes of the Year and five National Athletes of the Year. Frye's athletes have earned four USTFCCCA National Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in addition to five SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. One of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Frye brought South Carolina its first team NCAA Championship in any sport when his women's squad captured the 2002 NCAA Outdoor title.
Frye is a three-time United States Track Coaches Association (USTCA) National Coach of the Year, taking home the 1999 and 2002 women's outdoor and the 1999 men's indoor honors. He became the first person in the history of the USTCA to win the award both indoors and outdoors in the same year. In 2001, he earned the prestigious Nike Coach of the Year award and was named the 1997 USOC Track & Field Coach of the Year. In addition, he is a three-time SEC Coach of the Year, with the honor coinciding with his three women's outdoor conference titles in 1999, 2002 and 2005.
In October 2008, Frye was bestowed the Order of Ikkos Medallion, presented by the United States Olympic Committee. Later that year, he received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina to recognize lifetime achievement and service to the state.
Frye was enshrined in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame in December 2013. Earlier that fall, Frye was inducted into the Sandhills Community College Hall of Fame in Pinehurst, N.C. He is also a former President of the USTFCCCA and is currently a non-voting member of the organization's Board of Directors.
Hired at South Carolina on July 29, 1996, Frye came to Columbia after serving as assistant head coach at North Carolina for four years. During his tenure at UNC, he was part of 13 ACC championship teams.
Prior to his stint with the Tar Heels, Frye was an assistant coach at Florida from 1988 to 1992. While with the Gator program, he coached three NCAA individual champions and one relay team champion. In total, 29 All-America certificates were earned while Frye was in Gainesville.
From 1984 to 1988, Frye was an assistant coach for N.C. State, aiding the Wolfpack to four conference championships. He was instrumental in leading State to 27 All-America honors, four individual NCAA second-place finishes and 37 conference champions.
Frye began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, East Carolina, in 1974. He also served as head coach for the men's soccer team and was director of facilities. Frye took a break from the collegiate ranks from 1979 to 1984 when he was head track and field coach for Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, N.C.
A national search for a replacement will begin immediately.