CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga track and cross country head coach Bill Gautier was inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame Monday night at the Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center.
In his 22 years with Chattanooga, Gautier has guided the Running Mocs to 13 Southern Conference titles in cross country and track and field and was named Coach of the Year for the SoCon 13 times. In 1998 he was selected the NCAA South Region Cross Country Coach of the Year for guiding his Mocs to the region crown and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
"It's always special to be recognized for your achievements, especially in the place that you have made home," Gautier said of the honor. "But success as a coach is all about whom you surround yourself with and I've been fortunate to be surrounded by some special people."
Gautier has guided his runners to nearly 200 individual SoCon titles and has produced 15 Cross Country Runners of the Year, 10 Indoor Track Performers of the Year and five Most Outstanding Performers in Outdoor Track. Thirteen individuals and the 1998 men's team advanced to the NCAA National Championships as well as 11 student-athletes in outdoors.
Eight of Gautier's runners earned All-American status for their performances at the National Championships. Perhaps Chattanooga's most decorated athlete Shannon Wommack (2003-2006) was a five-time All-American in cross country and outdoor track. She also holds four Southern Conference records and was named an Academic All-American as well by both the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association of America (USTFCCCA).
More than 20 times Gautier's teams have ranked among the Top 20 for academics in the nation including the 2009 Women's Track and Field team who held the top GPA in the country at 3.550 and the men's cross country team in 2011 with a team GPA of 3.81. He has had 16 NCAA All-Academic student-athletes on his rosters along with six CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. This season seniors Mark Cole and Morgan Buchanan joined three former runners as recipients of the Dayle May Academic Achievement Award given to the UTC senior student-athlete with the highest GPA.
Wommack, along with Lanni Marchant and Mary Jane Middlekoop were selected the Southern Conference Female Athlete of the Year as the league's most outstanding student-athlete based on academics, athletics and service. The award, instituted in 1990, is voted on by the each school's athletics director and a designated media representative.
Gautier's accomplishments began long before he reached the Scenic City, however. He was a distance specialist in track and field and placed second in cross country at Henderson County High School. He went on to run for Western Kentucky University in the middle distance races and was recognized many times as an all-conference performer in both track and cross country for the Hilltoppers.