With her surprising announcement, Irby becomes the second high-profile NCAA sophomore to abruptly go pro in the middle of the 2019 track season. Texas A&M NCAA 800m champion Sammy Watson ended her collegiate career to turn professional just weeks before the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships, while Irby competed just last weekend for the Bulldogs at the Florida Relays.
Like it was for Watson, the timing of this decision is curious for Irby. The sophomore from Indianapolis had a somewhat underwhelming indoor campaign, and she was visibly upset with her fifth place 400m finish at last month's NCAA Indoor Championships. Whether or not her frustration with a lackluster season had anything to do with her early departure is a matter of speculation, but the choice to leave school just days after her first outdoor meet suggests a sudden change of plans.
It is unclear as of yet who will coach Irby as she makes her transition to the professional ranks, but it does not appear that she will continue working with the Georgia staff.
Even though she was overshadowed at times by fellow SEC freshman phenom Sydney McLaughlin in 2018, Irby established herself as one of the top quarter-milers in NCAA history last June with her stunning 49.80 performance in Eugene. The time is the second-fastest ever in the NCAA.