Steve Dolan named new director of the Penn Relays

Currently the James P. Tuppeny/Betty J. Costanza Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at Penn, Dolan succeeds Dave Johnson, who announced his retirement as director in September 2020.

Steve Dolan, currently the James P. Tuppeny/Betty J. Costanza Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at Penn, has also been named the Frank Dolson Director of the Penn Relays. Dolan will continue in his role leading the track & field and cross country teams, which will further align the intercollegiate programs with one of the premier events in track & field, the Penn Relays. Dolan succeeds Dave Johnson, who announced his retirement as director in September 2020.

“As the former long-time executive director of the Penn Relays, it gives me great pleasure to name Steve Dolan as our next director,” says Alanna Shanahan, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W’69 Director of Athletics and Recreation at Penn. “Steve has the vision and experience to take this nationally and internationally recognized event and make it even more impactful. By continuing in his role with Penn track & field, there will be greater alignment between the varsity programs and the Relays, benefitting both programs immensely.

“I also want to thank Dave Johnson for his decades of service to Penn and Penn Relays,” Shanahan continues. “The Relays are in a better place in 2021 due to Dave’s leadership, care, and love of this event for more than three decades in an official capacity, and many more as a fan and contributor.”

Dolan has been guiding Penn’s track & field and cross country programs since 2012, and intends to lead the Penn Relays by recruiting elite participants, creating a more entertaining experience for participants and fans, building upon the Penn Relays brand year-round and in the community, and hosting more track & field events at historic Franklin Field.

Runners take part in the Penn Relays in 2019. (Image: Eric Sucar)

“I am honored by the opportunity to help lead the next chapter of the Penn Relays and humbled to follow Dave Johnson with this responsibility,” Dolan says. “Dave did an outstanding job both developing and leading the Penn Relays over the last 26 years as the event director.

“As we look to the future, I am inspired to work with Alanna and Scott Ward [senior associate athletic director, chief operations officer/executive director of the Penn Relays] to build on the incredible history of the event,” he continues. “Having attended the Penn Relays over the last three decades and as both a coach and a parent, I am keenly aware of the profound positive impact this event has on so many people.”

Aligning the track & field and Penn Relays offices allows Penn Athletics to sync strategic goals and resources, and will ultimately help both grow in the coming years. Penn has recently expanded its track & field and cross country coaching staff, and an associate director of the Penn Relays will assist Dolan with meet management and promoting the sport of track & field in the local and regional community. The growth of future staffing will benefit both track & field and Penn Relays.

“The Penn Relays is a tradition like no other for our campus community, the City of Philadelphia, and the track & field world at-large,” Dolan says. “We are excited to host a great Penn Relays Carnival in 2022. I can’t wait to see everyone in Franklin Field the last week in April.”

Steve Dolan celebrates with Uchechi Nwogwugwu, Nia Akins, Melissa Tanaka, and Maddie Villalba after the quartet won the College Women’s Championship of America Distance Medley Relay at the 2019 Penn Relays. They became the first Ivy League women’s team to capture a Championship of America title at the Penn Relays. (Image: Eric Sucar)

One of the most highly regarded coaches in the country, Dolan has transformed the Quakers program in his time in Philadelphia. In each of his first eight seasons at the helm (pre-pandemic), Penn sent at least 11 NCAA Outdoor qualifiers, including 20-plus men and women combined each from 2016-19, and produced at least one outdoor All-American each year. 

Throughout his career, Dolan has coached five college Championship of America relay teams at the Penn Relays, including the women’s distance medley relay and the men’s 4xmile at Penn.