Harvey Glance

Harvey Glance (1957-2023) was a top track athlete who gained national and international recognition between 1976 and 1987 for his speed in 100- and 200-meter competitions. As a student at Auburn University, he became a National College Athletics Association (NCAA) champion, a world-record holder, and an Olympic and Pan American gold medalist. After retirement, Glance served as head coach of track and field at Auburn, the University of Alabama, and for numerous U.S. national teams at international competitions.

Harvey Glance at Auburn Harvey Edward Glance, son of Wheeler and Ella Lee McCoy Glance, was born on March 28, 1957, in Phenix City, Russell County. As a youth in Alabama’s “sin city.” Harvey would run five miles daily in a sweatsuit and combat boots to strengthen his legs and soon discovered no one could outrun him. Running became a passion, and at age seven he started competing. As a student at Central High School, Glance was a top track athlete, and his potential was recognized and encouraged by driver education teacher Joe Henderson. At Auburn University, Harvey majored in health and human performance and competed on the school’s track and field team under the tutelage of nationally renowned coach Mel Rosen. Glance chose Auburn, in neighboring Lee County, for its proximity to Phenix City, but he quickly thrived under Rosen’s close personal supervision and disciplined approach. His reputation for speed was first recognized nationally in the spring of 1976, when he tied the world record of 9.9 seconds twice in 100-meter races in Columbia, South Carolina, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also broke junior world records with times of 10.12 seconds and 10.11 seconds over 100 meters. Representing Auburn, Glance went on to become the 200-meter champion NCAA champion in 1976 and 100-meter champion in 1977. He was also a member of “The Fabulous Four,” a quartet of sprinters that also included Tony Easley, Willie Smith, and James Walker and that set more school and conference records than any foursome in Southeastern Conference (SEC) history. With the addition of John Lewter, they became “The Auburn Five,” recognized by Track and Field News as America’s leading track athletes of the 1970s. Glance led the Tigers to successive SEC indoor championships from 1977 to 1979. Altogether, he won 14 SEC championships and became Auburn’s all-time leading scorer.

Harvey Glance, 1976 In June 1976, Glance qualified to participate in the Montreal Olympics at team trials in Eugene, Oregon, easily winning the 100 meters. In Montreal, he was confident he would win and gain recognition as the world’s fastest human, but an official delay of the event and his hesitation at the start caused Glance to lose focus and place only fourth. He regained his composure, however, and ran the first leg of the 4 x 100-meter relay with teammates Johnny Jones, Millard Hampton, and Steve Riddick, winning the gold medal in the event. Glance presented his Olympic watch to Mel Rosen in appreciation for his unfailing support. As a sports celebrity after the Olympics, he joined Rosen for speaking engagements throughout Alabama.

Although he intended to pursue a career in public relations or journalism upon leaving Auburn in 1979, Glance accepted an office job with American Express in Phoenix, Arizona, that allowed him to train four hours and work four hours daily. Thus, he was able to compete at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, placing second in the 100 meters and winning the 4 x 100-meter relay with Mike Roberson, Cliff Wiley, and Steve Riddick. The foursome also placed second at the 1979 Athletics World Cup in Montreal. Glance qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics but did not compete owing to the U.S. boycott over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. He did, however, run in the Liberty Bell Classic (Olympic Boycott Games) in Philadelphia, where he won a silver medal in the 100 meters and gold in the 4 x 100-meter relay. Although injured in 1984, he qualified as an alternate in the 100 meters for the Los Angeles Olympics. In his last competitions, Glance won gold medals as a member of American teams at the 1985 World Cup in Canberra, Australia, the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow, USSR, the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the 1987 World Championships in Rome, Italy. In 1988, he became liaison for the U.S. Olympic team, vice president of USA Track and Field, president of the Athletes Advisory Committee, and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors.

Harvey Glance at UA In 1991, Glance embarked on his coaching career, being inspired by famous Olympian Jesse Owens‘s success as an Alabamian and his work with youth. After serving as an assistant for a year, he succeeded Rosen as head of the Auburn track and field program. At Auburn, Glance coached Craig Hepburn (long jump), Samuel Matete (hurdles) and Victor Houston (decathlon) to Olympic qualification. He also coached sprinter Juliet Campbell, the 1993 SEC Female Athlete of the Year, and in 1994 he coached the World Junior Team in Lisbon, Portugal, which won five gold, eight silver, and four bronze medals. During the 1995-96 season, Glance’s team earned 14 All-American honors, and in 1997, Glance served as head coach of men’s track for Team USA at the World University Games in Trapani, Italy.

Harvey Glance, 1996 Glance became head track and field coach at the University of Alabama in 1997 and helped make the Crimson Tide one of the nation’s best collegiate track and field programs, coaching scores of All-Americans (including 15 in 2002), dozens of conference champions, and numerous national champions. They included Tim Broe (steeplechase), David Kimani (distance running), and Ron Bramlett (hurdles). Glance was also a successful international coach of American teams. In 1999, he was head coach of the men’s track team at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, in which the United States led in total medals with 295. He was an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France, and coached the 2006 World Junior Team in Beijing, China. Glance also coached runners at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, in which Americans won 13 track and field events. Upon retirement in 2011, Glance continued as personal coach for Kirani James, who won the 400-meter event at 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea, and in the 2012 Olympics in London, United Kingdom.

Glance was married to Booker Lynne Graves, with whom he has one son. In recognition of his achievements, Glance was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 1999, Sports Illustrated ranked him 23rd of Alabama’s 50 greatest sports figures. In 2008, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Freedom. Glance died on June 12, 2023, in Mesa, Arizona.

Further Reading

  • Ballard, Perry. “Rosen Stepping Down as AU Track Coach.” Auburn News, March 1991.
  • Darch, Craig. From Brooklyn to the Olympics: The Hall of Fame Career of Auburn University Track Coach Mel Rosen. Montgomery, Ala.: New South Books, 2014.
  • Pulliam, Mel. “Harvey Glance: The Name Means Speed in Track.” Gadsden Times, May 13, 1978.
  • Rosen, Mel, Miscellaneous Collections #708, Series I, Auburn University Special Collections.

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