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USF hires Erik Jenkins as new track and field, cross country coach

Like Willie Taggart, Jenkins excelled as an athlete and coach at Western Kentucky.
Erik Jenkins, a graduate of Quincy Shanks High, had a highly successful 11-year tenure as track and field/cross country coach at Western Kentucky. [Photo provided by USF]
Erik Jenkins, a graduate of Quincy Shanks High, had a highly successful 11-year tenure as track and field/cross country coach at Western Kentucky. [Photo provided by USF]
Published Jun. 27, 2019

Roughly seven years after plucking a coach from Western Kentucky to try and resuscitate its moribund football program, USF has done the same in track and cross country.

The school announced Thursday that it has hired Hilltoppers coach Erik Jenkins, who has guided WKU to 30 Sun Belt and Conference USA team titles in the past 11 seasons.

A 1995 graduate of onetime Panhandle track power Quincy Shanks High, Jenkins replaces Warren Bye and Dena Reif, dismissed earlier this month as the Bulls' track and field and cross country coaches, respectively.

MORE USF: USF dismisses track and field coaching staff

"Erik has a proven track record of excellence and has instilled a championship mindset and culture as head coach at Western Kentucky,” USF athletic director Michael Kelly said in a school news release.

“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.”

Jenkins, who won a Sun Belt Conference long jump title at WKU, coached seven conference freshmen of the year, 26 conference most outstanding performers, and guided the Hilltoppers to 174 individual and 22 relay championships in his tenure.

Additionally, he coached 121 NCAA final participants and 84 All-Americans, according to USF.

He inherits a track and field program that failed to crack the top six (men or women) in the American Athletic Conference indoor and outdoor meets last season. In cross country, the USF men and women placed 10th and 12th, respectively, at the 2018 AAC meet.

“USF provides an exciting platform for students to receive a world-class education and live in Tampa, one of the nation’s most vibrant cities,” Jenkins, a married father of two, said in the USF release.

“I will lead this program with unwavering passion and a strong sense of purpose.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.