USC continues to build the reputation of its already-esteemed track and field program by bringing in top flight leaders to continue the tradition: the Trojans have hired Caryl Smith Gilbert from the University of Central Florida to be the new director of the Track and Field program, the university announced via Twitter on Monday.
Smith Gilbert succeeds Ron Allice who retired earlier this month after having shaped the Trojan track and field program for the past 19 years. In his tenure, USC earned a combined 25 NCAA Top 10 finishes, including the 2001 NCAA women’s team title. 32 athletes won individual titles under his leadership as well.
“We are thrilled to have Caryl join the Trojan Family as our Director of Track and Field for our men’s and women’s programs,” said USC AD Pat Haden in a press conference. “USC has a glorious track and field tradition and Caryl is the right person to build on that tradition. She is more than ready to take on this position.
Smith Gilbert served as the head coach for the Knights for six seasons, led UCF to five Conference USA titles and was named the C-USA Coach of the Year six times. In 2013, the Lady Knights earned a program-best fifth place finish at both the 2013 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor and Indoor Championships, the best finish by a non-BCS team since 2000.
Though Smith Gilbert has achieved much success running the women’s program at UCF, she has never coached a men’s team, so how she does in this new endeavor will be something to follower over the coming season.
The new director also spoke during the press conference, expressing her excitement about this new opportunity:
While it is difficult to leave the program we built at UCF and I will forever be thankful for the support I received there, I am very excited about becoming a USC Trojan. I would like to thank Pat Haden and Dr. Magdi El Shahawy for considering me, talking to me and helping me through the process. I know we can win championships at USC and we will be a powerhouse program for both men and women. I am from the West Coast and I look forward to getting back there. The academic and athletic tradition at USC is unparalleled and I plan to continue the tradition of winning and add to the numerous national championships USC has already won.
Interestingly, Smith Gilbert is a graduate uf UCLA, where she set state records in the 200m, 100m and the long jump. She was a three-time All-American for the Bruins and a Pac-10 Conference champion in the 100m, and as a member of both the 4×100-meter 4×400-meter relays.