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Francis Allen
Position: Head Coach
City/State: Lincoln, Neb.
High School: Lincoln High School
Alma Mater: Nebraska
Graduating Year: 1965
Phone: 402-472-6476
Email: fallen@huskers.com

Allen’s Honors

  • Two-time United States Olympic Coach (1980, 1992)
  • Three-time NCAA National Coach of the Year (1979, 1980, 1981)
  • Eight-time National Coach of the Year (1979-83,1988, 1990, 1994)
  • Seven-time Regional Coach of the Year (1977, 1979, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1996 and 1999)
  • USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Member
  • College Gymnastics Association Honor Coach Award
  • Eight NCAA Team Championships
  • Seven NCAA Team Runner-up Finishes
  • Nine U.S. Olympians
  • Three Nissen Award Winners
  • 41 Individual NCAA Champions
  • 172 All-America Awards
  • 15 Academic All-America Awards
  • College Gymnastics Association President (2000-2008)
  • MPSF 15th Anniversary Team Co-Head Coach

In his 40-year reign as the Nebraska head coach, Francis Allen has created a legacy unparalleled by any other gymnastics program in the country.  Allen’s dedication to the scarlet and cream has spanned over five decades, in which time he has garnered the admiration not only of his peers, but of the entire gymnastics community.

 

Before coming to the University of Nebraska, Allen competed for longtime head coach Phil Sprague at Lincoln High School.  The Husker mentor began his long association with NU in 1963, while competing for Hall of Fame head coach Jake Geier.  Allen and former Nebraska assistant coach Jim Howard led the Huskers to back-to-back Big Eight titles in 1963 and 1964, before going on to co-captain the 1965 squad. 

 

Allen was a national gymnastics all-around finalist from 1962 to 1964, finishing as high as fourth in 1964.  He also took first place on the parallel bars at the Big Eight Championships the same year.  Upon graduating, Allen immediately began his coaching career, assisting Geier until Geier’s retirement in 1969, at which time Allen took over head coaching duties.  Since 1950, Allen and Geier have been the only two head coaches at Nebraska.

 

Over the course of his career, Allen, who is also the director of Nebraska gymnastics and president of the College Gymnastics Association, has been in charge of one of the most successful programs in college sports.  Allen has led the Huskers to eight NCAA championships, seven runner-up finishes, 41 individual national titles and 14 conference titles.  But this success only tells a part of the legendary story that has made Allen a leader in the sport. 

 

The Huskers began their era of dominance in 1979, winning an unprecedented five straight national titles.  An eight-time national coach of the year, Allen led his team to an impressive 17 straight NCAA appearances from 1979 to 1995.  To date, the Huskers have competed in 25 of the last 30 NCAA Championships, advancing to the finals on 16 occasions, most recently in 1999. 

 

Individually, Allen’s athletes have earned 172 All-America awards, including a fifth-place finish by former Husker T.J. Schmidt on pommel horse and a sixth-place finish by former NU gymnast Stephen Tetrault on pommel horse.

 

A total of 41 gymnasts have also earned individual event titles, seven of which came in the all-around from such internationally known competitors as current NU assistant coach Jim Hartung (1980 and 1981); Wes Suter (1985); Tom Schlesinger (1987); Patrick Kirksey (1989); Dennis Harrison (1994); Richard Grace (1995); and Jason Hardabura (1999).  Hartung (1982), Suter (1986) and Schlesinger (1987) were also awarded the Nissen-Emery Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior gymnast.

 

Allen’s triumphs have not been limited to the collegiate scene.  Nine of Allen’s former gymnasts have gone on to Olympic competition a total of 11 times.  In fact, Allen himself has had the honor of being selected as head coach of the Olympic team not once, but twice, the first of which came in 1980 in Moscow and again in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.  During the 1992 games, Allen coached former Nebraska gymnast Trent Dimas to a gold medal with a 9.875 on the high bar.  Dimas was the first U.S. gymnast to win a gold medal at a non-boycotted Olympic Games in 60 years.

 

The outstanding amount of talent that has sifted through the Nebraska gymnastics program over the past 40 years is indeed a testament to Allen’s success.  The recruiting power that Allen’s international reputation brings to Nebraska has played a major role in building a successful program.  Over the years, Allen has drawn recruits from throughout the United States and several foreign countries.  In fact, the 2007 roster alone lists talent from across the map, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. However, as a Nebraska native, Allen also recruits extensively in his home state.  This season showcases five gymnasts from Nebraska, two from Lincoln and three more from the surrounding areas of Blair and Omaha.  In fact, in 2003 Allen was named to the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to the sport in the state of Nebraska.

 

Traditionally, Allen’s athletes parallel success in the gym with academic excellence in the classroom.  Allen has coached 11 athletes to 15 CoSIDA Academic All-America awards, nearly three times as many as any other school.  Over the past nine years, Allen has coached a total of 11 All-America Scholar-Athletes to 21 individual honors as awarded by the College Gymnastics Association.  In 1998-99, the Huskers won the Herman Award, presented to the Nebraska men’s and women’s teams with the highest team GPA over two semesters.  On the national level, two of Allen’s athletes, Schlesinger (1989) and Kirksey (1990) have earned the NCAA Top Eight Award, the highest honor given to student-athletes.  In all, Nebraska leads all college programs with 15 NCAA Top Eight Award winners.

 

 

Allen, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, received his master’s degree in physical education from Nebraska in 1967.  His wife, Jill Dupont, is a native of Lincoln.