New cross country/track and field head coach named

Erik Jenkins was named USF's cross country/track and field head coach Thursday. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS

The first coaching hire of the Michael Kelly era has taken place.

Kelly announced the hiring of Erik Jenkins as cross country/track and field head coach Thursday.

Jenkins comes to USF from Western Kentucky, where he spent the last 11 years as cross country/track and field head coach. The Quincy, Florida, native led Western Kentucky to 30 conference team championships and was named conference coach of the year 21 times.

On the individual level, Jenkins coached seven conference freshmen of the year, 215 NCAA preliminary participants, 121 NCAA final participants and 84 All-Americans during his time at Western Kentucky.

“Erik has a proven track record of excellence and has instilled a championship mindset and culture as head coach at Western Kentucky," Kelly said in a statement. "His ability to recruit and develop talented student-athletes, along with his strong ties to the state of Florida, makes him the perfect fit to lead our track and field and cross country programs."

He inherits programs from now-former head coach Warren Bye that have under-performed for years, finishing last or second from last in all conference championships during the 2018-19 season, and which have yet to pick up a single point all-time in the all-sport War on I-4 with UCF since the trophy’s inception during the 2016-17 season.

Jenkins earned his bachelor’s in mass communications from Western Kentucky in 2000 and a master's in organizational communication in 2006. Jenkins was a four-year letterwinner from 1995-99 as an undergraduate. His primary performance was the long jump.

Prior to being named head coach at Western Kentucky, Jenkins served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Hilltoppers from 2000-07.