The 2012-13 academic year is Tom Rutledge's 24th as head men's cross country/track & field coach at Missouri Southern. He has led the Lions to eight MIAA cross country championships (2000-03, 2005-07, 2009) and two MIAA Indoor Track & Field championships (2004, 2007), 10 championships in 12 years.
His MSSU cross country team has made 11 team appearances in the last 13 years at the NCAA Division II Championships, always finishing in the top 20 but highlighted by a sixth-place national finish in 2000, a seventh-place showing in 2002 and an eighth place finish in 2012
For his efforts, Rutledge was named MIAA Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009 and Indoor Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2007. Rutledge was also honored as South Central Region Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year in 1999, 2004 and 2007, and South Central Region Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2007 for his contributions to the sport. Coach Rutledge was inducted as a member of the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Rutledge has mentored four National Champions, eight cross country All-Americans and 55 in track and field, several of the 55 achieving multiple All-American statuses. He has had numerous student-athletes earn academic awards, both on the conference and national levels. In 2005, the pole vaulters took the top five positions in the MIAA Outdoor Conference and took the top three finishes at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships, a rarely achieved accomplishment for one school.
In the spring and summer of 2000, he coached Tongula Givens Steddum, a former Missouri Southern national champion in the triple jump, as she made her bid for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Rutledge became head cross country coach in 1989 when Southern first developed its men's and women's teams. Prior to joining the Southern staff Tom coached successful programs at Arkansas Tech and Colorado’s Adams State.
An assistant professor of kinesiology, Rutledge received a bachelor's degree in physical education and social studies from Ouachita Baptist University in 1974 and a master's degree in physiology of exercise from Henderson State University in 1976.
Tom is most proud of his efforts to bring cross country track and field to Southwest Missouri. By designing an on campus cross country course he has been able to bring five national cross country championships (AAU and NCAA) and seven regional cross country championships to Joplin. These events have brought thousands of athletes and spectators to Joplin and significant revenue to the community. The annual cross country Southern Stampede brings over 2,000 athletes to Joplin each year and is one of the largest cross country meets in the nation.
Coach Rutledge has assisted in developing the MSSU International mission by establishing distance learning programs in Finland and Russia.
Tom is married to Karen, a local State Farm agent. They have two sons, Chad and Kyle. Chad, a State Farm agent, and his wife Becky and granddaughters Morgan and Allyson and grandson Ethan, live near Salt Lake City. Kyle, a former All-American pole vaulter for MSSU, and his wife Natalie and granddaughter Emery live in Pittsburg, KS where he is an assistant track coach at Pittsburg State University.