(UW-W press release) Dr. Willie Myers, a wrestling coach, instructor and athletics administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for 36 years, passed away Tuesday, January 12 at the age of 81.
Myers served as Head Wrestling Coach from 1968-2004 and as Men’s Athletic Director from 1983-98, and was a tenured professor in UW-Whitewater’s Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Coaching (HPERC).
A visitation will be held Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 11:30 a.m. at Faith Community Church, located at W5949 Hackbarth Rd. in Fort Atkinson. A funeral service will be held at the church at 1 p.m., with a burial to follow at Cold Spring Cemetery in Fort Atkinson.
Following services, a get-together will take place at The Real MacCoys, located at N1431 County Rd. N in Whitewater.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Willie Myers, an icon in the Warhawk Family,” Interim Director of Athletics Ryan Callahan said. “Willie’s enthusiasm, commitment and leadership as both a coach and administrator were integral to the success of UW-Whitewater wrestling and the entire athletic department. He was a caring mentor to our student-athletes and his coaching peers. Our alumni always speak with deep affection for the role he played in their lives.
“Willie was a man of honesty and integrity, and was so well respected in his profession. He was a wonderful representative of the wrestling community, of intercollegiate athletics and of this university. Our thoughts are with Willie’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
As wrestling coach, Myers led the Warhawks to 12 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, including seven straight titles from 1974-80, and 17 top-20 finishes at national championship tournaments (combined NCAA and NAIA), including nine among the nation’s top 10. He coached 64 individual conference champions, and his student-athletes earned 53 All-America honors, including four national championships, and 30 Scholar All-America accolades during his tenure.
The 1969 NAIA Rookie Coach of the Year and a five-time conference Mertz Mortorelli Coach of the Year, Myers ranks as the WIAC’s all-time leader in dual wins with a 301-136-7 career record (.686 winning percentage). He was selected as the coach of the WIAC’s All-Time Wrestling Team, which was announced in conjunction with the league’s Centennial Celebration in 2011-12.
In the 1970s, Myers coached the United States freestyle team at the 1977 World University Games, and served as the wrestling team administrator for the U.S. at the 1979 World University Games. He led an NAIA exchange team on a tour of Japan and Korea.
Highly respected in the wrestling community and among his peers, Myers served as President of the NAIA Wrestling Coaches Association from 1978-80 and as President of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Coaches Association from 1985-87 and 1989-91, and held numerous other committee positions. He was part of a multi-division committee that studied weight management among college wrestlers.
Myers received the Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and was granted Emeritus status for the Departments of Intercollegiate Athletics and HPERC upon his retirement in 2004. In 2005, the Williams Center’s wrestling room was dedicated in Myers’ honor, and now bears the name Willie Myers Family Wrestling Gymnasium.
As men’s athletic director, Myers oversaw the first men’s national team championship in school history (men’s basketball, 1984 and 1989) and planning for the remodeling of the Williams Center and the addition of Kachel Fieldhouse. He also helped plan and administer the men’s programs to meet gender equity mandates.
Myers was inducted into the UW-Whitewater Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. He is a member of the George Martin (State of Wisconsin Wrestling) Hall of Fame, the NAIA Wrestling Hall of Fame, the NAIA District 14 Hall of Fame and the Eastern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Myers also served as chair of the Department of Coaching prior to its merger with HPERC and was an assistant football coach (1974-76, 1978).
Myers earned his bachelor’s in industrial arts and master’s in guidance and counseling from Eastern Illinois in 1964 and 1966, respectively, and was a four-time NAIA national qualifier at EIU during his wrestling career. He completed his doctorate in education administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977.
To give to Warhawk Wrestling as a memorial for Myers, click here, select Wrestling from the dropdown menu, check the box for Tribute Gift and write in Willie Myers.