BYU to combine men's and women's track programs

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah — BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe today announced the men’s and women’s Cougar track and field teams will combine under newly appointed head coach Ed Eyestone beginning June 10. Under NCAA rules, combining the teams will allow the track program to increase the number of disciplines coached for both male and female student-athletes. 

“This change will give us an opportunity to administer the track and field program more effectively and efficiently,” Holmoe said. “It allows for better coordination of competition schedules, recruiting and travel. The biggest advantage is our student-athletes will benefit from increased individualized coaching.”

Per NCAA rules, institutions with separate men’s and women’s programs are allowed three full-time coaches per team. Coaches may only work with student-athletes from their respective teams, thus leaving many athletes without a coach for their specific event. The consolidation of the programs will allow all BYU track and field athletes to have a full-time coach in his/her event.

The move to a combined program reflects a growing trend in college athletics as many schools such as UCLA and Iowa have recently made the change. BYU made a similar change in 2009 when it combined the men’s and women’s swimming programs under longtime coach Tim Powers. That move also provided student-athletes with increased access to specialized training and feedback from coaches.

Eyestone came to BYU in 2000, when he was named the head men’s cross country coach and an assistant men’s track coach working with the distance runners. Eyestone has led the Cougar cross country program to nine conference titles, 11 top-three finishes at the Mountain Region Championships and four top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including a fourth place finish in 2011 and a sixth place finish in 2012. He has also coached nine All-Americans who have earned 13 citations and an individual national title.

As the men’s track distance coach, Eyestone’s athletes have earned 34 All-America citations, four individual national titles and one distance medley relay national title.

Eyestone is one of the most decorated athletes to come out of BYU. A 10-time All-American in track and cross country, Eyestone was the 1984 individual NCAA cross country champion and won the 10,000 meters at the 1984 and 1985 NCAA Track and Field Championships and the 5,000 meters in 1985. He is also just one of seven BYU athletes to earn the prestigious NCAA Top VIII Award.

Following his career at BYU, Eyestone was a five-time U.S. Road Racer of the Year and a two-time Olympian (1988 and 1992). He was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

“When I came back to BYU 13 years ago it was a dream come true. BYU has a rich tradition of excellence in men’s and women’s track and field and cross country. It has produced All-Americans, national champions and Olympians on a regular basis,” Eyestone said. “I now look forward to being involved as the men’s and women’s teams are merged into one program. I know that as coaches, administrators and student-athletes work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve. High performance is the natural result of consistent preparation.

Mark Robison and Patrick Shane, the head coaches of the men’s and women’s programs, have been offered positions on the staff. The remaining coaching positions are currently under review and will be announced as they are filled. BYU will continue to compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation during the indoor season and as an independent during the outdoor season.