Passages: South Dakota’s Don “Doc” McCullough, 94

VERMILLION, South Dakota, January 15. DON "Doc" McCullough, who began the swimming and diving program at The University of South Dakota, died Wednesday, Jan. 13 at the age of 94.

Services are pending with the Hansen Funeral Home in Vermillion, S.D.

McCullough and his wife, Betty, moved to Vermillion in 1966, where he became a USD professor and chair of the physical education department. He began the swimming and diving program during his time at USD along with forming the Vermillion Swim Club. Doc was the driving force behind the aquatics program, as well as the HPER curriculum, and had an incredible influence on every swimmer, diver and student whose path he crossed. McCullough worked hard to recruit student-athletes from various parts of the country to come and compete at the U.

He was the head coach of the USD swimming and diving program until 1981. That year, in his final season, the Coyotes made history, sending their first swimmer/diver to the national meet, as diver Fred Villa qualified for the national meet.

In 1996, he was inducted into the Henry Heider Coyote Sports Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the USD Athletic Program.

In the 1970s, McCullough started Masters swimming and was frequently ranked as an All-American. He swam the hour swim in 2001 and set a national relay record with his 85 and older teammates.

In 2004, the Don & Betty McCullough Aquatics Scholarship Endowment was established to provide scholarships for members of the swimming and diving team at USD.

McCullough was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1915. He swam with the Columbus Athletic Club and competed for Ohio State University from 1935-1940.

McCullough later taught high school physical education and coached for seven years in Columbus.

After a brint stint working in circus promotions, McCullough taught physical education and coached at Emporia State Teachers College in Kansas, where he chaired the physical education department. In 1958, the state department sent him to Iran for two years as National Sports Advisor to the Shah.

McCullough and his wife, Betty, returned to Emporia in 1961 and remained there until 1966, when they moved to Vermillion.

McCullough is survived by his wife of 68 years, Betty, and children Betsy and Jim.

The above article is a press release submitted to Swimming World Magazine. It has been posted in its entirety without editing. Swimming World offers all outlets the chance to reach our audience by contacting us at However, Swimming World reserves the right to choose what material is posted.

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