John C. Martin, DSU athletic director from 1985-96, dies

DOVER — Former Delaware State University athletic director John C. Martin, who oversaw the school’s athletic department for over a decade, passed away on Thursday.

Martin’s death was announced in a DSU press release. He was 85.

Martin, who was hired by then Delaware State College president Luna I. Mishoe, was DelState’s AD from 1985 to ‘96.

During Martin’s tenure, Delaware State’s men’s and women’s programs were each recognized as the best in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1987 and ‘90, while Hornet teams captured a total of 11 MEAC championships.

In 1987, Delaware State received the MEAC’s Mary McLeod Bethune All-Sports Award for overall excellence in women’s sports. The Hornets were presented with the Talmadge Hill Award for overall excellence in men’s sports in 1990.

Under Martin’s leadership, the Hornets won four MEAC football championships (1987, ’88, ’89, ’91), along with conference titles in volleyball (1986), men’s and women’s indoor track and field (1987), baseball (1989), men’s cross country (1989), women’s cross country (1990) and men’s outdoor track & field (1992).

Martin was director of athletics when the softball program was formed at Delaware State in 1992. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the school’s athletics compliance office and a major proponent of the NCAA’s Academic Enhancement Program, which provides funding for academic assistance at member institutions.

In addition, he helped spearhead football classic contests featuring the Hornets at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., in 1992 and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1994.

Martin also helped negotiate the first athletics competition between Delaware State and University of Delaware teams. The Hornets defeated the Blue Hens in men’s basketball, 99-95, in the first head-to-head meeting between teams from the state’s two Division I schools in 1991.

He was inducted into the Delaware State Athletics Hall-of-Fame in 2001.

Before coming to Delaware State, Martin was Director of Athletics and the successful men’s and women’s track & field/cross country coach at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be released.

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