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Walker, a Relays fixture, dies at 93

LeRoy Walker was the first black president of the USOC. He also coached 8 Olympians.

LeRoy Walker worked as referee at the Penn Relays from 1969 to 2010. (AP file photo)
LeRoy Walker worked as referee at the Penn Relays from 1969 to 2010. (AP file photo)Read more

LeRoy Walker, 93, the first African American president of the U.S. Olympic Committee who attended the Penn Relays for six decades as a coach and referee, died Monday in Durham, N.C.

Dr. Walker spent more than 40 years at North Carolina Central, first as track coach and later as chancellor. During his career, he coached eight Olympians who won a total of 11 medals, including back-to-back golds by hurdler Lee Calhoun in 1956 and 1960.

Dr. Walker became the first African American coach of the U.S. Olympic men's track and field team in 1976 and led the squad to 22 medals, including six gold.

He also served as senior vice president for sport for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and as USOC president from 1992 through 1996.

At North Carolina Central, Dr. Walker brought great athletes to the Penn Relays, including the 1972 team that set collegiate records in the mile and sprint medley relays. Three runners - Larry Black, Robert Ouko, and Julius Sang - won Olympic gold medals later that year in Munich.

Dr. Walker worked as college referee of the Penn Relays from 1969 to 1987, and carnival referee from 1988 to his last meet in 2010. Dave Johnson, director of the Penn Relays, said Dr. Walker had been too ill to travel last year.

"Doc was one of the really revered people in the sport," Johnson said. "He'd been around forever. He came up in the days of segregation and succeeded through it. He was still going strong into his 90s."

Funeral arrangements were not announced.

- Joe Juliano