Former UNC track and field head coach Dennis Craddock was presented the Priceless Gem Award on October 27, 2012 in a ceremony during the football game against NC State. The award is the highest honor given to employees of the UNC Athletic Department is recognizes those who have given a lifetime of service, commitment and passion to Tar Heel athletics.
Craddock headed the track and field and cross country programs at Carolina for 27 seasons, which accrued 45 ACC Championship titles, 51 NCAA Championship performances by 31 Tar Heels, and 23 Olympic appearances accounting for four gold and three bronze medals.
Prior to coming to Carolina, Craddock was the head coach at Virginia from 1976-85. While in Charlottesville, he coached the Cavaliers to back-to-back NCAA Championships in women's cross country in 1981 and 1982 and a women's indoor national title in 1981. The Virginia women's team also won consecutive ACC outdoor titles from 1983-85.
In total Craddock's teams have claimed 45 ACC titles, more than any other coach in any sport in the history of the conference. He was voted the National Coach of the Year in 1995 for men's indoor track and field. Craddock was also elected the ACC Coach of the Year 31 times in his career, 26 of which were during his tenure with the Tar Heels.
Carolina was the first school to win the ACC "Triple Crown" -- first-place finishes in cross country, indoor and outdoor track in the same academic year. Under Craddock, the Tar Heel women have done it twice, first in 1994-95 and again in 2003-04.
Carolina's 20 national individual titles coached under Craddock include: Allen Johnson (1992, 55-meter hurdles); Ken Harnden (1995, 400-meter hurdles); Milton Campbell, Harnden, Tony McCall and Henry McKoy (1995, 4x400); Monique Hennagan (1996, 400 meters and 800 meters); Eric Bishop (1996 and 1997, high jump); Shalane Flanagan (2002 and 2003, cross country; 2003, 3000 meters); Laura Gerraughty (2003, 2004 indoors and outdoors and 2006 shot put); Vikas Gowda (2006, discus); Justin Ryncavage (2006 and 2007, javelin); Brie Felnagle (2007, 1500 meters); and Felnagle, Tyra Johnson, Kaltenbach and Kloss (2007, distance medley relay).
Craddock is a 1965 graduate of Ferrum College, where he played football and was named captain and MVP of the track and field team. After two years at Ferrum, Craddock earned his bachelor's degree at Lynchburg College. He is an inductee in the Ferrum College Sports and Lynchburg College Athletics Halls of Fame.
Craddock and his wife Faye have three children and six grandchildren. Faye also worked in the UNC athletic department before retiring.