Founder Of UAlbany Track and Cross Country Passes Away
ALBANY, N.Y. – Robert Keith “R.K.” Munsey, the founder of the University at Albany track & field and cross country programs, passed away in his sleep overnight Friday. He was 91.
Munsey served as coach at UAlbany from 1958-1985. His teams qualified for national championships a total of 11 times and finished in the top 20 in six championship meets. His cross country teams compiled a record of 182-65 in 24 seasons with Munsey at the helm, and his outdoor track & field teams earned a record of 137-34-1 in 18 seasons.
“R.K. Munsey was the architect of our track & field and cross country programs, said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “It was his vision that got the programs going here, starting with cross country in 1961 and indoor and outdoor track soon after. He created quite a winning tradition here. He was the historian for Division III track & field for the whole country. Historical things were very important to him. He also created a culture of winning, and he really cared about the young people that he served. He created a real bond and tightness with that group. They’re still in connection today more than 30 and 40 years later.”
“The entire UAlbany family was saddened to hear the news of the passing of one our all-time great coaches, Robert Munsey,” said Director of Athletics Mark Benson. “Our sincere condolences to his family and the hundreds of UAlbany track & field student athletes he positively impacted over his 26 years with the Great Danes.”
Under Munsey’s guidance the cross country team won SUNY Athletic Conference Titles in 1971-73, 1977, and 1984, with the 1973 team placing second at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.
Munsey coached five student-athletes who earned All-America honors during his tenure, and seven of his student-athletes went on to be enshrined in the UAlbany Athletics Hall of Fame. The Coach Keith Munsey Track & Field Scholarship and the Men’s R.K. Munsey Championship 8K are named in his honor.
“Personally, he embraced me with open arms,” said Vives. “I had very limited college experience when I came here. I was a women’s coach for one year at Lehman College and had a very small team, so I was still brand new to coaching. I remember him picking me up at the bus station when I came to interview and giving me all kinds of advice. He always told me he would be jealous but rooting for me, wanting me to be successful. He later became an incredible artist, and I have two of his paintings hanging in my living room that he really wanted me to have. He means a lot to this program, and we wouldn’t be where we are without him. I was honored to have known him and the people he had the privilege of coaching.”
In 2010, Munsey was inducted into the UAlbany Athletic Hall of Fame, and he was later a member of the inaugural UAlbany Track & Field and Cross Country Wall of Fame Class in 2012.