AZUSA, Calif. -- In a move that reconfigures the coaching leadership of one of the nation’s elite college track & field programs, Mike Barnett has been named the first-ever director of Azusa Pacific track & field, a move announced today by Director of Athletics Gary Pine.
Barnett, who served as the women’s track & field head coach for the past 13 seasons, is now responsible for both the men’s and women’s programs, and he will continue to work with men’s head coach Kevin Reid and new women’s head coach Preston Grey to lead a Cougar track & field program that has claimed a combined 30 NAIA national championships while producing 273 individual national champions.
“I expect this reconfiguration of leadership to be a positive move towards our goal of enhancing the academic, athletic, and spiritual growth of Azusa Pacific student-athletes,” Pine said. “Mike will do an outstanding job of creating an atmosphere of dialogue and collaboration amongst our coaching staff. With the contributions of Kevin, Preston, and the assistant coaches, Mike will determine, and articulate with one voice, the direction and yearly goals of Azusa Pacific track & field.”
No other NAIA track & field program comes close to claiming more combined men’s and women’s team or individual national championships than Azusa Pacific, which is entering Year Two of candidacy towards NCAA Division II membership. In fact, the Cougars have over 100 more individual men’s and women’s national champions than any other NAIA program, and Azusa Pacific’s 30 NAIA track & field championships doubles the next-highest school’s combined total of men’s and women’s national titles.
“This is an incredible opportunity to lead the Cougar track & field program, with all its rich traditions from the past, into the next stage of the program’s future,” said Barnett, who will continue to mentor Azusa Pacific’s men’s and women’s throwers in addition to serving in his new role. “The bar’s going to be set higher, and the coaches and the student-athletes know it. We have a talented, well-rounded coaching staff, and our ultimate goal is to help move our student-athletes closer to Christ. Our coaches have the talent to make them better athletes, but I think we’re also called to build relationships with them, and if we do that, I believe the program will thrive.”
The men’s track & field program will continue to be led by Reid, a 13-time NAIA Coach of the Year who has guided the Cougars to 12 of the program’s 23 NAIA men’s national championships. In addition to winning the 1996 NAIA indoor title in his first national meet as head coach, he also presided over the only five-meet national championship streak in the 47 years the NAIA has held indoor and outdoor championships.
The women’s head coaching role will be filled by Grey, who continues into his eighth year at the helm of Azusa Pacific’s men’s and women’s distance programs. Grey, who was named the 2008 NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year after helping Azusa Pacific capture its first-ever cross country national championship, takes his first track & field head coaching assignment. Under his seven-year watch over the Cougars’ distance program, both the men’s and women’s teams have posted three of the top four national finishes in each program’s history.
“I am asking Mike to coordinate a singular vision, mission, and purpose that unites the men and women as one program competing for multiple championships,” Pine said. “Just as I want the student-athletes to be one unit, I also want our coaching staff to be one team as well. Kevin and Preston will continue to be intimately involved in the operations of the program, particularly in the areas of practices and meet competition, and they will still have a significant hand in recruiting and student-athlete well-being.”
Barnett transitions into a program-wide oversight role, in which he will establish the program’s philosophy, vision, and mission to formally unite the men’s and women’s team as one program. With involvement from both the men’s and women’s head coaches, Barnett will oversee the program’s budget, scholarships, practice, recruiting, scheduling, and fundraising while ensuring the application of NCAA regulations.