A tough loss for the Falcon family

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: August 10, 2010
RALEIGH, N.C. Saint Augustine’s College is mourning the loss of former track and field standout Antonio Pettigrew, who died Tuesday morning.

A former 400m world champion who was caught up in a doping scandal, Pettigrew was found dead in his car according to several internet reports. He was 42.

News of Pettigrew’s death sent shockwaves throughout the St. Aug campus where he became known as a track and field standout.

Saint Augustine’s president Dianne Boardley Suber expressed sorrow over the loss of a great athlete and alumnus.

“Saint Augustine’s College is saddened by the loss of Antonio Pettigrew,” Suber said. “He will always be remembered as a first class athlete; one who played a major role in establishing a tradition of excellence in the track and field program at Saint Augustine’s College.

Our heartfelt prayers and thoughts are sent to his wife Cassandra, their son Antonio, Jr., and to his extended family.”

Acclaimed head track and field coach George Williams was a coach and mentor to Pettigrew. Williams, who is out of the country, issued the following statement: “Besides being a great athlete, Antonio Pettigrew was a friend and colleague who represented himself, his family and his community on the international track and field stage,” said Williams, the school’s athletic director.

“He will not only be remembered for his accomplishments on the track but for the thousands of lives his success impacted. He was a role model and mentor who will be sorely missed. His contributions to the success of the Saint Augustine’s College track and field program will never be forgotten.”

Pettigrew was an eight-time national champion and 10-time All-American between 1991 and 1992 at Saint Augustine’s College.

During that time, Pettigrew won four NCAA Division II titles in the 400-meter dash, and helped the Falcons win four NCAA men’s national crowns.

In 2000, Pettigrew was inducted in the Division II track and field hall of fame by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

After graduating in 1993, Pettigrew spent three years as an assistant coach under Williams at his alma mater. He coached 30 All-American student-athletes and helped Falcons win the NCAA men’s and women’s championships.

Pettigrew was part of the 4×400-meter relay team that won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. During a federal court case against former coach Trevor Graham in 2008, Pettigrew testified that he took human growth hormone and EPO as a runner between 1997 and 2001.

Following that admission, the IOC stripped Pettigrew and U.S. teammates Alvin Harrison, Calvin Harrison, Angelo Taylor, Jerome Young and Michael Johnson – of their gold medals won in the 4x400m.

Following his coaching stint at Saint Augustine’s, Pettigrew became the director of cross country and track and field at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.

He joined the staff at UNC-Chapel Hill as an assistant track coach in 2006, coaching sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams. While coaching at UNC, Pettigrew helped develop eight NCAA regional qualifiers, an ACC champion 4×400 men’s relay team and an American record-setting and indoor national champion DMR relay squad.

“Although we are still learning the circumstances, we are deeply saddened to learn of Antonio’s death,” UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour said on Tuesday. “I was particularly impressed with the relationships he established with his student-athletes and the pride he took in representing the University of North Carolina.”

“Our deepest condolences go out to Antonio’s family, particularly his wife and son.”