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Former MTSU Coach John Stanford Passes Away

StanfordMTSUMURFREESBORO – John Stanford, an icon in Middle Tennessee athletics, passed away on July 1 at the age of 77.

Stanford, a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, played for the Blue Raider baseball program from 1960 to 1963 then became the head coach from 1974 to 1987. In 1987 he took over as athletic director where he served until 1994.

Stanford, who was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1987, came to Middle Tennessee in the 1950s after serving with the Air Force where he had gained acclaim as a softball and baseball pitcher. He made his mark on MT baseball by becoming an All-OVC selection.

After graduation, he went pro, pitching two seasons for the Washington Senators before serving as baseball coach for Shelbyville Central and Motlow Community College in Middle Tennessee.

In 1974, he returned to his alma mater to cultivate one of the most respected diamond programs in college baseball. His Blue Raider record of 402-272-4, is second only to his hand-picked successor, Steve Peterson. His teams won OVC titles four times and the league’s Southern Division crown five times. He took Middle Tennessee to the NCAA Tournament four times, making it to the championship round of the Midwest Regional in 1982, only one victory away from a coveted berth in the College World Series.

By vote of this coaching peers in the OVC, he was selected the league’s Coach of the Year in 1976 and the co-winner of that honor in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1987. He was also selected South Region Coach of the Year in 1982 by the American Association of College Baseball Coaches.

As athletic director, he worked with donors to improve baseball facilities and scholarships, upgraded the golf program and advocated the formation of the women’s softball program and field.

Stanford is survived by his wife, Nancy Trobaugh Stanford, daughter Maureen Stanford Caudle and two grandchildren, Katie and John Owen Caudle, all of Murfreesboro.

Final arrangements have not been completed but the funeral will be held at 11 AM on Friday, July 5 at Woodfins Funeral Home. Visitation is set for 10 AM that morning. Further information can be obtained at

All media requests should be directed to the MT Athletic Communications Office.

“John Stanford has been a bedrock of MTSU for over 40 years and is one of three people to compete as a student-athlete, serve as a head coach, and be an Athletic Director at Middle Tennessee (joining Charles “Bubber”Murphy and Boots Donnelly). He is an incredible person who had an undeniable footprint on our athletic department’s history. Much of the success we enjoy today can be attributed to Coach Stanford and his efforts.”

“This is a sad day for the Blue Raider baseball family. Coach Stanford is the one who started it all and built the foundation for the success of our program. He is a legend not just for Middle Tennessee baseball, but the entire athletic department. He will be greatly missed.”

“John Stanford was truly a Blue Raider icon and will be fondly remembered for what he did for this University.”

• Middle Tennessee won 25 OVC titles and made 18 NCAA Tournament appearances during his tenure as Athletic Director
• Won OVC Women’s All-Sports Trophy in 1988
• Started Blue Raider Athletic Association, the fundraising arm of the Middle Tennessee athletic department
• Added softball and announced soccer as a varsity sport during his tenure as AD
• Instrumental figure in helping program begin expansion of department that continues today

Baseball Coach at Middle Tennessee• 402-272-4 career record at Middle Tennessee
• Best career winning percentage (.593) in school history
• OVC Coach of the Year in 1976, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1987
• Coached OVC Players of the Year in 1977 (Mike Moore), 1982 (Kenny Gerhart), 1983 (Scott Turner), 1986 (Steve Sonneberger) and 1987 (Dave Richardson)
• American Baseball Coaches Association South Region Coach of the Year in 1982
• Coached 43 All-Ohio Valley Conference selections
• Four regular season OVC championships (1976, 1981, 1982, 1987)
• Four OVC Tournament titles (1976, 1981, 1982, 1987)
• Four NCAA Tournament appearances (1976, 1981, 1982, 1987)
• Seventeen former players went into professional baseball, Kenny Gerhart in major leagues
• Reached final of NCAA Midwest Regional in 1982 in Stillwater, Okla., one game away from the College World Series
• Raised money and built current baseball stadium, including first lighted collegiate field in the state of Tennessee; also helped raise funds for the Stephen B. Smith Clubhouse & Indoor Hitting Facility
• Member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

Motlow State Community College
• Started the program in 1971
• Won divisional championships in 1971, 1972, 1973
• Overall record of 97-23 (.808)
• Coached one Junior College All-American
• Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 1971, 1972, 1973

Shelbyville Central High School
• Won district championships in 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970
• Reached state playoffs in 1970
• Overall record of 74-26 (.740)
• Coached four divisional champion American Legion teams

Player at Middle Tennessee
• Led 1959 squad with 7-1 pitching record and first conference baseball championship in school history
• Played two years in Washington Senators farm system

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