By Lincoln Shryack - FloTrack
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A major shakeup in the NCAA coaching landscape was announced on Thursday.
Chris Miltenberg, the former Stanford University Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, has left Palo Alto to fill the same position at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Miltenberg took the Stanford job during the summer of 2012 and led the program to a combined 10 podium finishes across both genders in cross country and track and field.
From a recruiting standpoint, this comes after an incredibly successful signing class for the Stanford men's team, which included elite boys distance stars such as Gatorade National Cross Country Player of the Year Liam Anderson (Redwood, CA), Ryan Oosting (Arlington, MA), Devin Hart (Pt. Pleasant Boro, NJ) and Charles Hicks (Jacksonville Bolles, FL). Mid-distance standout Matthew Rizzo (Bronxville, NY) signed in March.
Anderson was ranked No. 4 on MileSplit's Class of 2019 recruits, while Hart was No. 16, Oosting was No. 17 and Rizzo was No. 34.
"I knew it would take somewhere very special for me to leave Stanford and in all my conversations with Bubba [Cunningham, UNC's athletic director] leading up to this decision, it became clear that Carolina was the place that we could build one of the very best programs in the country with outstanding student-athletes, great support and a clear vision of the road to excellence," Miltenberg said in a statement on Carolina's website.
This role will mark Miltenberg's third prominent head coaching gig in the NCAA, as he also coached his alma mater, Georgetown, from 2007 to 2012. In 2011, Miltenberg's Hoyas won the women's NCAA Cross Country Championships, the same season he was recognized as the National Coach Of The Year.
While coaching changes happen all the time, this move is certainly interesting as Miltenberg leaves one of the most storied programs in the NCAA for the comparatively less revered one at UNC. Both the men's and women's Tar Heel cross country teams have not qualified for NCAAs since 2014.
Perhaps a new start was attractive for one of the top coaches in the nation. The 38-year-old is also from New York, so he will be moving much closer to home for this role.
This may begin a domino effect. Last year, as Oregon's Andy and Maurica Powell left Oregon for Washington, several former athletes followed the coaches up north. Miltenberg is replacing Harlis Meaders at UNC, whose contract wasn't renewed after this past season.