Clarence Robison

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Robison holding the torch he carried during the 1948 Olympics in London. Courtesy BYU Magazine

Clarence F. Robison was a revered Brigham Young University track coach. He was also a former track athlete and a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team competing in the 5,000 meters. The following year he toured Europe as a member of the U.S. National Track and Field team. 

Ed Eyestone, who competed under Robison’s leadership at BYU, said, "Any excellence we're achieving on our team or have achieved in the past, you have to trace to Clarence Robison.”[1]

"I consider him one of the greatest individuals of the Greatest Generation," Eyestone said. "He was just that kind of legendary figure. But even saying that, he had the kind of humility where he would be embarrassed to hear you talk about him like that, even though it is true.”[2]

As a BYU coach, Robison guided his teams to 19 WAC championships — "not to mention the unknown number of titles in the long-forgotten Skyline Conference — and elevated the Cougars to contenders on the national scene with a co-national championship and nine other top-10 finishes in the NCAA Championships."[3]

Coach Robison was named Coach of the Year in the Skyline Conference five times and received the Pembroke Award in 1975. During his coaching career, he coached thirteen individual NCAA champions, over seventy All-Americans, eleven Olympians, and one world record holder.

He was also president of the U.S. Track Coaches Association and a member of the NCAA Rules Committee.

He was inducted into the 1976 BYU Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was inducted into the U.S. Track Coaches Hall of Fame. The outdoor track and field complex at BYU is named in his honor.

“Coach Robbie,” as he was known, organized six trips to Europe for international competition, seeing a dual purpose in the trips: giving the athletes foreign experience and sharing the gospel.[4]

He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission with his wife, Monita, to Istanbul, Turkey. He also presided over the Missionary Training Center in Preston, England. He and Monita had nine children.

In four years of his own conference competition on BYU teams in the 1940s, he was defeated only once. He held both the one-mile and two-mile conference records and often competed in three running events in the same day: 880, one-mile, and two-mile.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and became an officer. Robison earned his BS degree from BYU and his MS degree from the University of Michigan.

He was born on June 18, 1923, in Fillmore, Utah, and passed away on September 26, 2006, in Provo, Utah.