July 18, 2002 11:00 pm
John Spatz ().
John Spatz ().

From Observer reports

A long-time coach of All-Americans and school record holders is leaving Eastern Oregon University for a regional rival.

John Spatz has accepted a job to be the head track and field and cross country coach at Northwest Nazarene University, an NCAA Division II school.

"I've enjoyed the opportunities to work with the people and students during the last 14 years here at Eastern," Spatz said. "It's hard to leave at a time when the athletic department is poised to really develop into a very good program. But I look forward to the new challenges of building a program at NNU."

In 15 years at Eastern, Spatz has coached track and field athletes to more than 50 NAIA and NCAA Division III All-American honors, and his athletes have set more than 40 school records.

Spatz will replace Randy Dalzell, who resigned from the Nampa, Idaho, school to accept a coaching and teaching position in Bend.

"We are very excited to have a coach of John's caliber join the Crusaders' family," said Rich Sanders, who becomes NNU's athletic director Aug. 1. "He brings a wealth of experience and background in all levels of track as well as the international level. John's recruiting contacts in the Northwest and beyond will be a great asset as he steps into the new position."

Eastern Oregon athletic director Rob Cashell said: "I am very sorry to see John leave Eastern; he has done a tremendous job during his 14 years here. The opportunity at NNU was one that he felt he could not pass up. I wish him much success."

Spatz has been Eastern's head coach for the men's and women's track and field teams for 12 years.

In 2001, he was named the indoor track and field regional coach of the year for both the NAIA and NCAA Division III.

In 1994, his men's teams finished 14th at the NAIA indoor championships and 13th at the outdoor national meet, the highest men's finishes in school history. The women's team was in the top 15 in 2000 at the NAIA indoor meet and was 12th at the NCAA Division III indoor meet.

The women's team was 10th nationally in the NAIA during the 2001 indoor season and 12th in NCAA Division III. This season, the women's team was 13th at the NAIA indoor meet.

This past year was his last as president of the NAIA Track and Field Coaches Association, and he has been a member of the board of directors for the United States Track Coaches Association.

During his coaching career, Spatz has taken athletes to Spain, Australia, Laos and Thailand. From 1993-96 he was the chairman of the NAIA Cultural Exchange Committee.

A 1988 graduate of Eastern Washington University, Spatz began his coaching career in 1986 as an assistant coach at Spokane Community College. In 1988 he also coached at University High School in Spokane.

Spatz and his wife Cindy have two children, daughter Rachael, 11, and son Micah, 7.

Spatz is the third head coach to leave Eastern in the last nine months. Football coach Rob Cushman resigned last fall and volleyball coach Sharon Campbell resigned this spring.