Dean A. Hayes obituary

Coach Dean A. Hayes passed peacefully after a private battle with skin cancer on Jan. 7, 2022, with his family at his side. He was 84 and still an active coach. Coach Hayes was in his 57th year as head track coach at MTSU. He also was selected to coach teams for the United States and Ghana at the Olympics, World Championships, and other international meets. Dean was a National Collegiate Coach of the Year, served as president of the USATF Coaches Association and was inducted into several Halls of Fame. Dean was honored in 2009 when the MTSU Track and Soccer Stadium was renamed the Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium.

Dean’s dry wit and generous spirit will be missed and always remembered by those whose lives he touched. He led the Blue Raiders to 55 conference titles; the last two titles in 2021 as MTSU swept the Conference USA Men’s and Women’s Cross-Country Championships. He had 20 top-25 finishes at the NCAAs and coached 53 All-Americans, including five national champions. A native of Naperville, Illinois, Dean was an All-American in the 880-yard run and the triple jump at Lake Forest College, where he also supported the Chicago Cardinals training camp in the early 1960s as an athletic assistant.

Dean’s stories were always true, even when he changed a name to protect the innocent. In his early days, Dean worked on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange; taught chemistry, biology and math, and coached track in both Chicago (at St. Mel High School) and Minneapolis; and ran with the Chicago Track Club. Dean found his way to MTSU in 1965 by finding schools in the South that had track programs coached by football coaches. He applied to be the track coach, thus beginning his storied college career.

Dean loved traveling with his family and spending time with his athletes, sharing stories about their antics and successes. He was instrumental in creating the Tennessee Spring Fling, which was one of the many ways he gave back to the community. Survivors include his wife, Jan, daughters Erin (Ted) and Kara (Mike), and sister Judy Wolf. The family asks you to consider donating to the MTSU Track and Field Athletes Endowed Scholarship to continue his legacy of supporting the athletic and academic successes of future generations of MTSU track and field athletes. Details on a Celebration of Life will be shared as soon as they are available.

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The family welcomes receipt of any stories, photos, messages, or reflections at

An online guestbook for the Hayes family is available at

Woodfin Memorial Chapel. (615) 893-5151.

Dean Hayes

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