The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Tommie Lee White - Inducted 2011

White came from a large urban area (Atlanta) to a small rural town (Yankton) in 1962, and he became one of the greatest hurdlers in the world.

The 1966 Yankton College grad held virtually every high hurdle record in the immediate three-state area (South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa). He also held the world record at 60 meters (7.4 seconds, set in Moscow) and shared  the American record in the 50s (6.4). In 1968 he was a member of the world record-setting 480-yard shuttle hurdle relay team. The 6-foot-4 White, who generally did not use starting blocks, was second in 110s in national AAU meets in 1968 and 1973. His best time was 13.3.

White just missed U.S. Olympic team berths in 1968 and 1972. Five years he was ranked among the top 10 110-meter hurdlers in the world (his best ranking was No. 3 in 1971) and nine years he was ranked among the top 10 U.S. hurdlers with a best of No. 2. Four Americans, including Willie Davenport and Rod Milburn, were all ranked No. 1 during the time that White competed.

A three-time winner of the Howard Wood Dakota Relays 120-yard hurdles title and a member of the Dakota Relays Hall of Fame, White was the South Dakota College Athlete of the Year for 1965 and still holds the state records for the 120-yard highs (13.8) and 220 lows (24.6). He led Coach Carl Youngworth’s Greyhounds to three straight Tri-State Conference titles. In the 1965 meet, he accounted for 46 points, placing first or second in seven events.

White, who received his first master’s degree at the University of South Dakota, is a licensed psychologist with Ph.D.s in psychology and kinesiology. He was a professor of kinesiology and sports psychology at Cal State-Northridge from 1970 until retiring in 2005.

He coached the hurdlers at Southern Cal for two years and at UCLA for four in the 1980s and he served as team sport psychologist for several U.S. national track and field teams.

White is in his second stint at USC, in his sixth season as hurdles coach. He also is involved in sports psychology consultation with athletes and teams from all levels of competition, including amateurs, high school, university, professional and Olympic.


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