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Men’s track and field coach, Fred LaPlante, retires after 16 years

By Alexa Dettelbach, Daily Sports Writer
Published June 10, 2013

Michigan men’s head track and field coach Fred LaPlante announced his retirement on Monday, marking the end of a short head-coaching career as the 11th coach in program history

After 16 years of service to the University, LaPlante has decided to move on with the next phase of his life.

The Wolverines will begin their search for his replacement immediately.

During his 36 years of coaching, LaPlante has helped with 18 athletes earning Olympic berths, and has coached 25 national champions and 83 All-Americans. But the three-time NCAA District Head Coach of the Year knew it was time to take off his running shoes and continue his life in Ann Arbor with his wife, Nancy.

“I have enjoyed my experience with all of University of Michigan Athletics and especially the men's track and field program,” LaPlante said in a statement to the athletic department. “I want to thank the student-athletes and fellow coaches that I have been fortunate enough to work with as well as all those who work and have worked in the athletic department, including administrators and support staff.

“I'm sure the program will move forward with great success in the future, and I wish the very best for everyone.”

LaPlante was the head coach of the men’s team since 2008. Before that, he served as an assistant head coach from 1997-2008. In his last year as an assistant coach, he was named 2008 NCAA Great Lake Region Assistant Coach of the Year after the team won the Big Ten championship that season under former coach Ron Warhurst.

The 2013 season concluded Saturday, when the Wolverines finished tied for 44th at the NCAA outdoor championships in Eugene, Ore. LaPlante’s best finish during his tenure as head coach was in 2009 when Michigan finished a program-best second at indoor championships and third at outdoor championships. His best finish in the ensuing four years was a 33rd-place finish in 2012.

Before coming to Ann Arbor, LaPlante was the head coach of the Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field program, a position he held from 1992 to 1997.

LaPlante first began his coaching career as an assistant men’s coach at Columbia University in 1977. After one season he was hired as the head coach at San Diego State University, where he was the head coach of the women’s track and field team and led the Aztecs from 1978 to 1983. LaPlante then traveled across the state and held the same position at USC from 1983 to 1988 before he moved to the Midwest, where he held took an assistant men’s head coaching job for his alma mater, Eastern Michigan. LaPlante remained in the position from 1988 to 1992.

Since his time as the Wolverines’ head coach, LaPlante has had three runners compete in the Olympic games, including Adam Harris (200-meter dash, Guyana, 2008), Stann Waithe (4x400-meter relay, Trinidad, 2008) and Jeff Porter (110-meter high hurdles, USA, 2012). In addition, he coached the USA’s Jerome Singleton, who competed in the World Paralympic Championship 100-meter title in 2011.

LaPlante has already finished recruiting for the 2013-2014 season, after he inked 10 athletes in March.