Bill Dellinger began his legacy at Oregon as an athlete and transitioned into a prominent distance coach during the 1970s and 1980s.
As a student-athlete, Dellinger was a notable star under Bill Bowerman. He was a two-time NCAA winner, three-time All-American and three-time Pacific Coast Conference Champion. After college, Dellinger joined the Air Force but continued his athletic training. He captured two world indoor records, six American-records, and competed in the three Olympics--the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia, the 1960 Games in Rome, Italy, and the 1964 Games in Tokyo, Japan. Dellinger won a bronze medal in the 5,000-meters during his final Olympics in Japan.
Dellinger coached at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon and then at Lane Community College before becoming an assistant coach on the Oregon staff in the summer of 1967. He quickly transitioned into the head coaching role, taking over cross country for the 1969 season. Coincidently, that was the first term of Steve Prefontaine's career as a Duck. Four years later, Dellinger took on track and field head coaching duties after Bowerman stepped down from the post in 1973.
During Dellinger's 29 years as the head cross country coach, Oregon captured four NCAA Cross Country Championships, five runner-up finishes and four third-place honors. On the track and field side, Oregon brought home one NCAA Championship (1984) under Dellinger.
Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar, Rudy Chapa, Matt Centrowitz, and Bill McChesney, Jr. were among the distance sensations Dellinger mentored.
Dellinger gained national recognition for his stellar U of O Cross Country teams and was labeled "America's finest distance coach." Appropriately, he served as the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team distance coach for the 1984 Olympics. Dellinger also coached several other post-collegiate Olympians, such as Danny Lopez, Nick Rogers and Mary Slaney.
A native of Grants Pass, Oregon, Dellinger spent most of his life in Springfield, Oregon. Arguably one of the most talented distance runners of his time, Dellinger leaves his mark on Oregon as both an athlete and a coach.
Dellinger retired in 1998 and continues to reside in the area with his wife Marol.