Former Bulldog director of athletics and legendary track and field coach Kenneth Gardner has been selected for induction into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in June.
Gardner is one of the founding fathers of both Truman Athletics and the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Association. He attended the University from 1939-1947, pausing to serve in the United States Army during World War II. He was an All-MIAA football and track performer, and also served the Army as a major in North Africa and Europe, earning the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
After finishing his degree in 1947, Gardner coached at Marceline High School from 1947-1951. He returned to Kirksville as an assistant football coach in June 1952, and also assisted with basketball and track and field. He became the head track and field coach and led the Bulldogs to a decade of dominance. From 1959 until 1968, the Bulldog track and field team won every indoor and outdoor MIAA championship contested. The Bulldogs won a total of 19 indoor titles from 1959-1980 and 15 outdoor titles from 1959-1979, all under Gardner’s leadership.
Gardner coached 39 individual NCAA Division II All-Americans and had 11 win individual national championships. He was a two-time recipient of the College Track and Field Coach of the Year award, served as college division referee at both the Drake and Kansas relays, was on the games committee for the Division II National Track and Field Championships, a chair of the Midwest Region for the Division II Football Championships and sat on the Division II Football National Committee. He was a charter member of the Truman Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983 and inducted into the Missouri Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1984.