David Homer McCuskey was born September 4, 1907, at Dunlap, Iowa. He graduated from Woodbine High School in 1926, and began attending the Iowa State Teachers College (UNI). In 1930, McCuskey graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education, with a minor in industrial arts. While earning his degree, he was a successful football player and was on the wrestling team. Although he would become a wrestling coach, he never lettered in the sport. He received a Master of Arts degree in physical education from Columbia University in December 1933.
McCuskey, known as Mac to many, became the head coach of the Iowa State Teachers College wrestling team after Paul Bender took a leave of absence in 1930. In addition to coaching wrestling, he also coached the freshman football and baseball teams, and was a swimming instructor. McCuskey held these positions until 1952. During this time, McCuskey also served more than three years in the Navy's V-5 program during World War II.
As head coach, McCuskey, nicknamed "The Whip", guided the Panthers to national recognition. In his first year of coaching, ISTC wrestlers placed for the first time in the NCAA Championships. In 1934, Ray Cheney was the first ISTC wrestler to win a national championship title.
From 1947 to 1952, the Panthers dominated national championships, placing no lower than fourth place. In 1950, McCuskey led the Panthers to their first NCAA Championship in front of the home crowd in Cedar Falls.
When he resigned in 1952 to take over the head coaching job at the University of Iowa, he had a 102-31-7 record.
McCuskey's success did not stop when he left the Teachers College. His activities included:
- President of the Wrestling Coaches of America, 1950-1951
- United States Olympic Team freestyle wrestling coach, 1956
- Chairman of the Olympic Wrestling Committee, 1956
- College Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year, 1969
- West Team coach at the East/West NCAA All-Star Meet, 1970
- Charter member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1976.
- Member of the Helms Hall of Fame, the Sports of Sorts Hall of Fame, and the Iowa Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame
- Received the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Foundation Award
In 1972, McCuskey retired from coaching at the University of Iowa, where he had also been an associate professor of Physical Education. He became an honorary lifetime member of the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa Letterman's Clubs later on in his life.
McCuskey died in January 1985, of a stroke. He was 77. In July 1997, he was honored as the 152nd member of the Des Moines Sunday Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.
Compiled by Student Assistant Jonathan Russell; edited by Library Assistant Susan A. Basye, May 1997; last updated, January 14, 2014 (GP).