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A major shakeup in the NCAA coaching landscape was announced on Thursday as former Stanford director of track and field and cross country Chris Miltenberg is leaving 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.
“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, Milt and the 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.
It will be interesting in the coming weeks to see if any of Miltenberg's Stanford athletes choose to follow him to Chapel Hill. We saw that happen just last summer after Andy and Maurica Powell left Oregon for Washington, and a similar pattern could unfold in this instance.
Miltenberg is replacing Harlis Meaders at UNC, whose contract wasn't renewed after this past season.