If there is one name Pitt track & field is synonymous with, it’s the name Herb Douglas.
Douglas is already a Pitt Athletics Hall of Famer, but he will be further immortalized by having the new indoor track built at Pitt’s Victory Heights athletic complex named after him.
Victory Heights is a $250 million athletic program that will elevate Pitt’s athletic facilities with brand new, state-of-the-art construction that will result in a new 3,500-seat arena to host Pitt gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling and the new eight-lane 300-meter indoor track named after Douglas — among other facilities and amenities.
The project was first announced in early 2020, and after some COVID-19-forced delays, construction is expected to begin this fall — with the arena and sports performance complex expected to be opening in the fall of 2024 and the indoor track & field complex in early 2025.
Pitt chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced that the indoor track would be named after Douglas at Douglas’s 100th birthday celebration at the Senator John Heinz History Center on March 12.
“There’s no better way for us to express our admiration than to emulate what you have always done, which is to hand the baton to those who follow in your footsteps, dream big and achieve great things,” Gallagher said in the statement.
Douglas, a Hazelwood native and Pittsburgh city-wide and Pennsylvania state champion in high school, enrolled in Pitt in 1945 and set records right off the bat. With four intercollegiate long jump championships and one in the 100-meter dash and three Amateur Athletic Association long jump national championships, he was one of the top athletes in the country.
And with a bronze medal in the long jump at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England, he proved he was a premier athlete in the entire world.
Douglas graduated from Pitt soon after and went into the corporate world, rising to vice president while working for the Pabst Brewing Company — one of the first African American men to ever do so.
Douglas eventually founded the International Amateur Athletic Association in 1980, a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages fairness, integrity, uncompromising sportsmanship and excellence in athletic competition.
“You better pass it down and they will come to your aid and support later in life,” Douglas said in the statement. “Every one of these people here, I don’t know them personally, but they’re here because I’m 100 years old. That’s the main thing. It’s not that I won an Olympic medal or anything like that. They’re here from the heart.”