One key to building a productive athletic team at a Division I university is the continuity of coaching over the years. Such is the one of the primary reasons for the success of the University of Arizona men's and women's track and field teams.
Dave Murray is in his 35th year as a head coach at Arizona. Murray's tenure at Arizona is the longest running of any current Arizona coach, and is topped only by two legendary Wildcat figures, Fred Enke (36 years) and J.F. "Pop" McKale (35 years). During his time at Arizona, Murray has built on of the top cross country and track and field programs in the nation. Since he has been at the helms of the Arizona programs, Wildcat athletes have been named All-Americans 163 times in cross country and track and field. His coaching has also produced numerous NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference champions, Olympians, World Championship competitors and NCAA and Pac-10 Athletes of the Year. Murray has been honored as Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year eight times and and District VIII/West Region Cross Country Coach of the Year six times. He was also named and was the NCAA Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1984. His commitment to the university was reflected in 1998 when he received the University of Arizona Alumni Association Centennial Award.
One of only two cross country coaches in Arizona history, Murray was named head coach in 1968, succeeding Carl Cooper, who was the coach from 1954-67. Murray's list of duties was increased when he took over the women's cross country program from 1978-81 and when he was later named the men's track and field coach in 1982. The 1990 campaign saw Murray take the reigns for both the men's and women's cross country and track and field programs, pushing them both into the national spotlight. In his first year at the helm of the men's track and field squad in 1982, Murray guided the Cats to a 20th place finish at the NCAA Championships. That was just the beginning. The 1984 team had, at the time, the finest season in school history, finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships and earning a No. 2 dual meet ranking by Track and Field News. Furthermore, his programs have been ranked as one of the Top 20 dual meet teams almost every year since he has been in Tucson. During his 34 years as cross country coach, Murray has led his teams to 19 top-20 national finishes, which includes a sixth-place women's finish at the 1996 NCAA championships and a fourth-place finish at the 2001 NCAA championships. Both finishes were highlighted by individual titles being won by Amy Skieresz (1996) and Tara Chaplin (2001). Under Murray's tutelage, Skieresz has become the nation's dominant cross country and long distance runner, evident by her cross country title in 1996, plus three NCAA track championships (indoor 5,000m and the outdoor 5,000m & 10,000m) in both 1997 and 1998.
Other notable cross country seasons for Murray include a fourth place finish on the team's home course at the 1991 NCAA Championships, a fourth place national finish in 1991, a second place men's mark in 1984 and a number-two women's NCAA finish in 1990. Murray led the men's track and field team to its best finish in school history, a tie for fourth place at the 1998 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Murray coached the Arizona women to their best season in 2001, which was capped off by third-place finishes at both the indoor and outdoor championships. His distance runners have amassed 77 All-America awards. Among Murray's roll call of star pupils are NCAA track and cross country champions, Pac-10 cross country and track champions, Olympians, World Junior Cross Country champs and several other successful and well-known runners.
Murray is also recognized as one of the most distinguished coaches at the UA. He is a member of the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, a 1997 inductee to the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and a 1998 inductee into the University of Arizona Kappa Sigma Fraternity Hall of Fame. He received the Bear Down Award from the University of Arizona Alumni Association in 1995 and the University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Silver Anniversary Award in 1995. Murray continues to be actively involved in the NCAA community. He is the men's Western Regional representative to the NCAA Division I Track Coaches Executive Committee, the distance events coordinator on the NCAA Division I Track Coaches Executive Committee. He is also the Pacific-10 Conference Track and Field Rules Committee chairman. After earning All-America honors at San Bernardino Community College in California, Murray distinguished himself on the Arizona track team. In 1964, he set the school record in the 440-yard dash at 47.2 seconds. Success for Murray and his program is not only seen on the track, but in the classroom as well. His programs annually competes for the top GPA honors among all 18 of Arizona Division I programs, while producing All-Academic award winners on conference, regional and national levels. Murray taught and coached at Bella Vista High School in Sacramento, Calif. before returning to The University of Arizona as a graduate assistant with the track program in 1967. He received a master's degree in physical education from the UA in 1968. He is past president (1988-90) of the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association, the women's association (1981-82) and a member of the men's NCAA Executive Committee and a District VIII representative. Murray and his wife Nancy have two grown children, James and Terri. He was born July 21, 1942, in Oaks, North Dakota.