Head coach Keith Barnier will not return at the helm of ACU track and field for next season after being informed that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
ACU director of athletics Lee De León made the announcement Monday morning that the Wildcats and Barnier will part ways and that Barnier has been relieved of duties effective immediately.
“I appreciate Keith’s contributions to the track and field and cross country programs at ACU, but after much thought and prayer, I believe we need a change of direction,” De León said.
A national search for Barnier’s replacement will begin immediately and associate head coach Jerrod Cook will fill in as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2016 spring season. It is the second time Cook has been named interim head coach for ACU track and field, as he filled in after the dismissal of then head coach Roosevelt Lofton in 2013.
Barnier spent three years as head coach for ACU track and field and helped turn it into a force despite the transition to Div. I and the return to the Southland Conference. Particularly with the women’s cross country team, in which he led them to a seventh place finish in 2013 to fifth place in 2014 to ultimately the Southland Conference title in 2015.
The first place finish at the Southland Conference Championships in October was the first championship recorded by any ACU athletics program since the move to Div. I in 2013.
The women’s team finished second at the Southland Conference indoor championship meet last month after a fourth place finish in 2015. The men’s team finished sixth at the indoor meet after finishing tied for fifth in 2015 and sixth in 2014. The men’s team finished fourth at the outdoor championship meet in both 2014 and 2015.
“In his three years as our head coach, Keith did an admirable job in rebuilding those teams and I respect the work he did here,” De León said. “But we have to improve in several other areas aside from our competitiveness so that we can put together the type of overall program of excellence we all desire.”
The Wildcats have three more meets scheduled for their spring 2016 season, concluding with the Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Corpus Christi on May 6.