Duane Ross plucked in a hurry by Tennessee

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Duane Ross, a highly successful director for track & field programs at NC A&T, was hired Tuesday to lead Tennessee’s track and field program. The stunning and sudden move came less than a week after Vols parted ways with the previous head coach.

According to Knoxville News-Sentinel, Beth Alford-Sullivan, who has been UT’s director of track & field / cross-country programs for eight years, was released Thursday, May 19th. His contract, which will expire June 30, pays Alford-Sullivan an additional $ 10,000 per year, ending with $ 230,000.

According to the University of North Carolina’s system database, Ross, who has been at A&T since 2012, has a base salary of $ 236,250 with incentives and bonuses that result in total compensation of more than $ 300,000. Who knew A&T paid more for track and field coaches than Tennessee and many of the programs in the SEC?

Ross got the money.

The Duane Ross continues

Although the Middle East or South East Athletics Conference could not touch the SEC on the level of competition, Ross’s forces became dominant. He advanced to MEAC before the Aggies moved to the Big South this season.

A&T won 16 MEAC titles under Ross, four in men’s indoor track and field, four in women’s track and field, four in men’s track and field, three in women’s track and field and one in men’s cross -country.

With a commando effort in last day’s sprint event, the Aggies finished runner-up to High Point in the Big South 2022 men’s and women’s outdoor championships two weeks ago. The Aggies lost their men’s title by one point (178-177). She actually left the competition with the women’s title but gave up last week after one of the athletes was determined unfit.

A growing national power

Perhaps more importantly, Ross made the Aggies a national force. Ross built a budding dynasty at A&T. A&T men and women were finished up-and-coming 15th in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor season.

He did better in 2021 after stopping the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The man finished third at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships with 35 points behind national champions (and SEC members) LSU (84 points) and Oregon (53 points). Florida SEC member (34.5 pts., 4th), Texas A&M (T6th, 29 pts.), And Georgia (8thth25 pts.) Finished behind the Aggies.

The Lady Aggies tied with SEC member Alabama for fourth place in the 2022 women’s outdoor division with 31 points. National champions Southern Cal (74), Texas A&M (63) and Georgia (31) finished ahead of A&T. LSU (28.5), Florida and Texas (28) are below the A&T women.

More about Ross’s big book

In this year’s NCAA indoor season, the A&T men entered the final event, the 4 × 400 meter relay, beating Texas 37-35 with a chance of winning the national championship. A poor show in the 4 × 4 – they finished eighth in the premier event – left others with 36 points for the Longhorns, who won the event and national champions with 47 points. The Aggies have won the 2021 indoor and outdoor 4 × 400 relay and the 2022 indoor 4 × 400.

In total, he has won eight national championships under Ross ’guidance. Ross and Div. I was co-National Coach of the Year in 2021. She won the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region male coach twice and Southeast Region women’s coach for the first year. The A&T men were ranked No. 1 in the country during the 2022 indoor season.

So, it’s clear why Tennessee thinks so much about the work Ross does. This is also why UT Athletic Director Danny White said in a statement about Ross’s recruitment, “When looking at the best track & field coaches in the world today, it doesn’t take long to find Duane Ross’s name.”

White also cites the “incredible history of national champion teams, individuals and dozens of Olympians” in Tennessee. The UT men’s and women’s program has won a combined eight national team championships – five by the Vols and three by the Lady Vols. The last title for women was indoors in 2009 and the men were the last champions in indoors in 2002.

Such a long drought.

What Ross can expect at UT

Alan Hooker starred as quarterback for the A&T football team from 1984-88. His son Hendon Hooker will sign in his second year this fall as a starting quarterback for the Tennessee football team. Hendon Hooker transferred to Tennessee after spending his first three years at Virginia Tech.

“We thought Virginia Tech had a great facility until we reached Tennessee,” Alan said. The elderly Hooker said Ross would work a lot in Tennessee.

“For one,” Hooker said Wednesday, “(UT Athletics Director) Danny White is very committed to insuring all sports are successful.The amount of resources available to athletes from nutrition, medical care, weight and training facilities is the highest in the country.

Tennessee has the most state -of -the -art track & field facility, LaPorte Stadium. It has hosted four SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, ending in 2018. It has also been the site for the NCAA Mideast Regional, 1994 and 2005 USA Track & Field Youth Championships, 1994 USA Track & Field Championships, 1995 NCAA Championship, and AAU Junior Olympics 2002 and 2007.

The modern Truist A&T Stadium and Marcus T. Johnson Track have become one of the premier track and field facilities in the country and strengthened Ross’s recruitment efforts. It has attracted youth and high school track events like the AAU Junior Olympics and those hosted by Nike, New Balance and others. In 2013, the Aggies hosted the NCAA Eastern Region Preliminary Round and in 2020, the Aggies hosted the NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Championships.

Alford-Sullivan has eight assistants at UT. Ross will likely have many. Ross has three assistants at A&T. White also said he will work with Ross to identify elite distance coaches to oversee Tennessee’s cross -country program.

Compensation Duane Ross

At News-Sentinel Wednesday’s story update showed that Ross signed a five -year deal for $ 450,000 per year. Earlier stories on Tuesday said that financial arrangements were not disclosed. That number would put him at the top of track and field / cross country head coaches in the SEC and across the country.

According to the latest data, Georgia track and field directors Caryl Smith Gilbert and Michael Holloway of Florida had the highest compensation packages at the conference. Smith Gilbert, who worked in Georgia in June 2021 after leading the Southern Cal women to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor title, earns $ 500,000 annually. Holloway, who has ten NCAA titles in 20 years in Florida, has a total compensation package of $ 462,000. Holloway was the U.S. Track & Field head coach for the Tokyo Olympics.

Pat Henry’s package as director of track & field / cross -country Texas A&M gives him a base salary of $ 421,894 according to published information. LSU track and field coach Dennis Shaver has a base salary of $ 370,000. Shaver led LSU to the 2021 men’s NCAA Outdoor title. Texas A&M under Henry became number two in 2021 in the women’s NCAA Outdoors.

The time is now

Tennessee sprinter Favor Ashe is one of the talented athletes that Ross will inherit with the Vols.

Ross will see some of the Tennessee athletes who will be drafted next season during this week’s NCAA Div. I East Preliminary at Indiana University. The Vols will have 33 athletes competing regionally. New sprint sensation Favor Ashe entered competition Wednesday with a top 100 -meter time of 9.94 seconds. He won the summer at 10.14 to advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday.

UT redshirt rookie Wayne Pinnock had his second best long jump Friday at 8.08 yards. Pinnock came in second in the East Prelims behind A&T senior Brandon Hicklin effortlessly above 8.18 yards. Hicklin jumped 7.80 yards Wednesday as well forward.

In the final event in Ross, the Aggies will have 25 athletes in the Eastern Prelims. Junior quartermiler Randolph Ross Jr., the coach’s son, came in with a best 400 -yard time of 44.61. Ross Jr. at 45.86 Wednesday to advance with the fifth best time. Senior Cory Poole came in with the highest time in the 400 -meter hurdles (49.42). Poole won the heat and advanced Wednesday with a time of 50.76.

When Alford-Sullivan was recruited in June 2014, she became the first woman in SEC history to oversee a men’s program in any sport. Ross became the only black head coach at UT in any sport and number four in school history. JJ Clark led the track program from 2009 to 2015. Wade Houston (1989-94) and Cuonzo Martin (2011-14) led the boys basketball program.

Duties for Duane Ross at home

Tennessee did not win the SEC indoor, outdoor or cross-state during the Alford-Sullivan tenure. The best indoor finish for women tied for fourth time in 2016. Vols was also number four outdoors in 2016 and 2018. For men, she was number five indoors in 2020 and number six outdoors in 2018.

The Tennessee man finished third (83 points) behind Arkansas (120) and Alabama (114) in the 2022 SEC outdoor season. This is the best performance for the men’s team since 2008 when they also finished number three. The Vols women’s team finished ninth with just 34 points.

Finishing in the top three for men, Alford-Sullivan said after the meeting, “is a big problem. This is the best conference in the world.

It’s not enough.

Farewell words

Ross will coach the Aggies through the NCAA Preliminaries this week and at the June 8-11 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. He wrote a few parting words on the A&T athletics website Wednesday.

NC A&T Earl HIlton (l.) And Duane Ross (r.).

“I can’t thank you enough for all the love and support you’ve shown over the past ten years,” the statement read. “What I’ve done as a program can’t be done without energy, support and encouragement. Remember that my decision to continue my journey elsewhere was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to do; And this is because of the relationship I have with you all. I wish you all. knowing that I believe in the vision of Athletic Director Earl Hilton.

“Her guidance over the past 10 years has helped me become a coach now. She will continue to take this athletic program to a higher place.

That would be a lofty task.

Duane Ross plucked in a hurry by Tennessee