Former Southern Miss Athletic Trainer Larry “Doc” Harrington died Saturday of an illness at age 81.
As an exemplary Southern Miss figure, he was the first athletic trainer selected for induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. “Doc is a Southern Miss icon,” said Southern Miss legend Ray Guy.
Harrington was a sweeping force in the university receiving certification for its athletics trainer program. From there, he played a significant role in some of the greatest highlights in the history of USM sports. They include winning the Small College National Championship in football, rising to Division I and a NIT Championship in basketball.
Brett Favre, leading passer in NFL history and three-time NFL Most Valuable Player praised Harrington for maintaining his career. Favre was injured in a car accident before starting his senior season at USM. Many thought he wouldn’t play to his full potential due to the accident; however, he went on to lead the Golden Eagles in a victory over Alabama six weeks later.
“I would have never been able to play against Alabama or any of my years in the NFL if it had not been for Doc Harrington,” Favre said. “ I owe him much.”
Not only was he an athletic trainer, Harrington served as an equipment manager and profound tennis coach during his 40-year tenure at the university. His tennis team compiled a match record of 407-179. He also served as a trainer for the United States Olympics teams and the Senior Bowl football game for 25 years.
“Doc,” as many called him, was from one of Hattiesburg’s prominent sports families. His father, Smokie Harrington, was a dominant baseball catcher and later owned Smokie’s Sporting Goods store. One of Hattiesburg’s landmarks and Mississippi’s oldest stadiums, Smokie Harrington Park was named in honor of Doc’s father.
Harrington graduated from Southern Miss in 1954. He spent several years in the United States Army before returning in 1958 to receive his master’s degree and join the athletic staff full time.
He left a rich legacy in USM athletics. His sons, Larry and Bill played football for USM. Larry Jr. played tight end from 1976-78; Billy lettered for the program as a fullback in 1984. Another son, Kelly, was a cheerleader at USM. His grandson, Cooper Harrington, is currently a wide receiver for USM.