LeRoy Walker, the first African-American to lead the U.S. Olympic Committee and the recipient of an honorary UCF Doctor of Public Service degree, died Monday in Durham, N.C. He was 93.
An accomplished coach and educator, Walker was awarded the UCF degree in 2001. His daughter, Carolyn Walker Hopp, is coordinator of the Teacher Leadership Master’s Program in UCF’s College of Education.
Walker overcame poverty in his hometown of Atlanta to become the first African-American to earn a doctorate in biomechanics, and eventually became chancellor of North Carolina Central University in 1983.
Walker coached Olympic teams from Ethiopia, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya and Trinidad & Tobago before the U.S. Olympic Committee asked him to be the head coach of the 1976 track team that brought home 22 medals from Montreal.
In 1992, Walker was elected by the committee to serve as its president and CEO. He resigned as senior vice-president for sports with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games to take the voluntary position.
During his career, Walker also chaired the men’s track and field committee for the Amateur Athletic Union, served as president of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and was president of the Athletics Congress, the U.S. governing body for track and field.