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NEWS: Illinois Parts Ways With Director of TFXC Mike Turk, National Coaching Search Underway

Earlier this week, Illinois announced a "leadership change" within their track and field program. Head coach Mike Turk, who previously led the Illinois men and women as the Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, would not be returning to the program.

Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman noted in the press release that, "Regrettably, following our Big Ten championship in 2015, competitive success in our men's and women's programs has been fleeting."

Turk joined the Fighting Illini' in 2006 as an assistant coach in the throws and jumps. He was later promoted to a head coaching role and led Illinois when the university consolidated their men's and women's teams under one Director role that Turk assumed.

The press release also noted Coach Turk's early success within the BIG 10 through 2015. However, since then, both men's and women's programs at Illinois have consistently sat near the bottom of the BIG 10 Championship standings in both the winter and spring months.

Illinois has now begun a nationwide search for a new coaching replacement.

This isn't the first time this year that a Director role has opened up at a Power Five program. Tennessee unexpectedly parted ways with head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan back in May which eventually led to Duane Ross and Sean Carlson joining the Volunteers as the Director of Track & Field and the Director of XC, respectively.

Oregon, meanwhile, continues to inch closer to a replacement for Robert Johnson, the former Director of Track & Field and Cross Country for the Ducks.

A Director role at Cal Poly also took Ryan Vanhoy away from Ole Miss, one of the most elite middle distance programs in the country.

With the Fighting Illini' now looking for new leadership, it's hard not to wonder who Turk's replacement will be. On the distance side of things, Coach Sarah Haveman has done a tremendous job building her women's group. In theory, her proven record of improvement could qualify her for an internal promotion.

However, if Illinois is looking elsewhere, then they may be smart to wait until Oregon has made a decision with their newest hire, whenever that may be. The introduction of a new Director in Eugene could create some coaching turnover, potentially leaving strong candidates available to fill the lead role at Illinois.


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