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Don Decker named EU Kinesiology Department’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2019

Published on Mar 20, 2019 by Paul K. Logsdon

Don Decker

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University Department of Kinesiology will present its Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2019 to 1988 graduate Don Decker in a ceremony on Friday, March 22, at 4 p.m

The presentation and reception are open to the public and will take place in the Heritage Room of the Riggs Hall Administration Building, at the main entrance to the campus.

Decker, a star quarterback at Evangel, has committed his life to higher education, and is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of strength and conditioning for athletes.

Don Decker, director of sports performance, on the sideline at New Mexico State University. //

He is currently in his sixth year as the director of sports performance for New Mexico State University. Prior to that, he served four years as head football strength and conditioning coach at Ole Miss, and 15 seasons with the Arkansas Razorbacks, the last 10 as head strength and conditioning coach.

“Don is highly decorated and an esteemed professional in the highest echelons of collegiate strength and conditioning. He is an inspiration and shows our students what can be accomplished when they dedicate themselves,” said Dr. Kevin King, associate professor of kinesiology at Evangel.

  • In 2004, Decker earned the designation of Master Level Strength Coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa). He is one of just 140 strength and conditioning coaches in the world to earn that honor.
  • In 2010, he was named the Collegiate Strength Coach of the Year, by the Professional Football Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society.
  • In 2014, he was elected to be a member of the board of directors of the CSCCa.

In response to Evangel’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, Decker said, “We want what we do to matter. We all want to be relevant. It is recognition like this that marks the moments when others confirm what you hope to be true. The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of Evangel’s Athletics Hall of Fame and now this award. I am truly humbled, honored and blessed.”

The Kinesiology Department at Evangel University offers allied health students the opportunity to learn the art of patient care and injury prevention with degrees in athletic training, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Other kinesiology students earn majors in exercise science, sport management and physical education (with K-12 certification).

The balanced student athlete

A starting quarterback at Evangel, Decker was all-district, all-conference and an honorable mention All-American as a Crusader. He graduated from EU with a degree in physical education in 1988, and earned his master’s degree in exercise science from the University of Arkansas in 1991.

Don Decker with Marisa, a Down Syndrome girl who is a part of the New Mexico State University football family. She works with Don in the weight room. //

“Don Decker was the perfect example of a student athlete, excelling both on the football field and in the classroom!,” said Dr. David Stair, retired director of athletics for Evangel. “He was one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks ever to play at Evangel. And his reputation in the classroom was outstanding.”

For that, Decker credits the Study Skills class that he took his second semester of his freshman year. “It catapulted my academics,” he said. Records show that he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

When asked about specific faculty, staff or coaches, Decker mention Dr. Stair first, because of his support of Decker’s career goals and his help getting into grad school at the University of Arkansas.

Stair responded, “It was my pleasure to introduce him to the faculty of my alma mater, where he received a graduate assistantship and went on to distinguish himself with the Razorback athletics program. Don has made us all proud of the life he and Stacey have lived since leaving Evangel, and he certainly deserves this award!”

Other names mentioned by Decker were key players in the development of the football program at Evangel, which started in the Fall of 1977, just a few short years before he joined the Crusader team. Founding coach Denny Duron was mentioned for the investment he made in Decker’s football career, and Coaches Dave Schroeder and Keith Barefield “gave me the chance to play college football and live my dream.”

Current athletic director, Dr. Dennis McDonald, was the strength and conditioning coach at Evangel when Decker was a student.

“It was easy to see then that as a college student, he had much more expertise than I did in the profession,” said McDonald with a smile. “Beyond his expertise at a young age, what I remember most about Don was his work ethic. No one could outwork him. I had the upmost respect for Don then and it continues today.”

Don and Stacey Decker met at Evangel and both have 30-year careers in education. //

Decker met fellow athlete Stacey (Raccuglia ’88) at Evangel and celebrated 30 years of marriage on Feb. 11. Stacey holds a master’s degree in Special Education from Kent State University and has been teaching for the last 30 years.


SIDEBAR: Don Decker

Coaching Experience: 19 years of SEC experience

  • Director of Sports Performance, New Mexico State University – 2013 Current
  • Head Strength Coach, University of Mississippi 2008 – 2011
  • Head Strength Coach, University of Arkansas 1998 – 2008
  • Assistant Strength Coach, University of Arkansas 1993 – 1997
  • Head Strength Coach, Kent State University 1991 – 1993
  • Graduate Assistant, University of Arkansas – 1989 – 1991


  • BS, Physical Education – Evangel University
  • MS, Exercise Science – University of Arkansas


  • SCCC (Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified) through the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association
  • Master Level Strength Coach through the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association
  • CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) through the National Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association
  • USAW (United States Olympic Lifting Association) Level 1


  • 2010 Collegiate Strength Coach of the Year (Professional Football Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society)
Don Decker with Jaleel Scott, a receiver for New Mexico State University that was drafted in 2017 in the 4th round to the Ravens. Scott is holding his invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl. //

Team Honors:

  • SEC Western Division Champions in Football 1995, 1998, 2002, 2006 – University of Arkansas
  • 12 Bowl appearances
  • National Champions in Basketball 1994 – University of Arkansas
  • Final Four 1994 & 1995 – University of Arkansas
  • SEC Champions in Baseball 1999, 2004 – University of Arkansas
  • College World Series 2004 – University of Arkansas

Heisman Candidate:

  • Darren McFadden was two-time runner-up for the Heisman (2006, 2007)

Doak Walker Award Winner:

  • Darren McFadden won the award two years in a row (2006, 2007)

Walter Camp Award Winner:

  • Darren McFadden won the award two years in a row (2006, 2007)

1st Team All-Americans Football:

  • Twenty All-Americans

All SEC Football:

  • Ninety-One All SEC Players

First Round Selections in the NFL: 8

  • Shawn Andrews (Eagles) 1st Round
  • Ahmad Carrol (Packers) 1st Round
  • Matt Jones (Jaguars) 1st Round
  • Jamal Anderson (Falcons) 1st Round
  • Darren McFadden (Raiders) 1st Round
  • Felix Jones (Cowboys) 1st Round
  • Peria Jerry (Falcons) 1st Round
  • Michael Oher (Ravens) 1st Round