Men’s Cross Country Head Coach Sam Burroughs left the ACU program in late summer to coach the University of North Texas’ cross-country and track and field teams.
Burroughs will coach a Div. I school, replacing UNT’s Dr. Robert Vaughn, according to the UNT athletics website. Before coaching at Abilene Christian for two seasons, he served as assistant cross-country coach at Iona College, a Div. I college in New Rochelle, N.Y. At Iona, he helped lead the Gaels to the NCAA Division I Championship three times, finishing in the top four each time.
Athletic Director Jared Mosley said ACU is in the process of filling Burroughs’ position. Mosley and the Athletics Department have been conducting interviews with six candidates. He said they expect to formally introduce a new head coach soon.
Track and Field Head Coach Roosevelt Lofton will serve as interim head coach for the cross- country program until the empty position can be filled.
Burroughs said several factors led to his departure from the university. Among those are the state of Elmer Gray Stadium and the number of scholarships set aside for the cross-country program.
He said Elmer Gray Stadium, where the cross-country team practices, is in a state of deterioration and has no locker room for the runners.
“Part of the fun of playing in college is being in the locker room with your team,” Burroughs said. “That’s something those kids don’t get to have.”
Mosley agreed the university could make improvements to the stadium, but said that Div. II schools face challenges that Div. I programs do not have to.
“It’s not like those challenges haven’t been on our radar,” Mosley said. “Elmer Gray is still one of the nicer stadiums in Division II.”
Burroughs also saidÂ four scholarships the university gave up as part of sanctions by the NCAA in 2009 have yet to be returned to the cross country program.
The university agreed to sanctions after an NCAA investigation revealed improper gifts had been given to several international athletes at a Christmas party in 2007. Burroughs said he expected those scholarships would be returned to the program.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
Molsey said the department is still deciding how they will deploy their student scholarships and said they still could be returned to the cross country program.
“I’m not saying that they won’t be added back,” Mosley said. “Despite the scholarship situation, we have one of the best programs in the nation.”