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ACU tabs Keith Barnier to lead Track & Field program

Published On: May 10 2013 05:02:27 PM CDT
Updated On: May 13 2013 08:49:48 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley announced Friday that he has hired Keith Barnier to become the 18th head track and field coach in the history of Abilene Christian University.

Barnier, who is currently completing his 11th season as the head track and field coach at Minnesota State-Moorhead, will be introduced in a press conference Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Teague Special Events Center on the ACU campus.  The event is open to the public.

Barnier will take over the program shortly after the NCAA Division II national championship meet, which is May 23-25 in Pueblo, Colo.

"I'm excited to join the ACU staff as the head track and field coach," said Barnier, who is married to former ACU track and field national champion and ACU Sports Hall of Fame member Sylvia (Dyer) Barnier. "It's tough to leave my alma mater because we've done some great things here. But I couldn't pass up the chance to coach track and field at Abilene Christian.  The ACU program is one of the legendary programs in our sport, and I'm looking forward to the chance to lead it through the transition to NCAA Division I and back to a place of prominence."

ACU has won 59 track and field national championships in its history and has seen more than 400 athletes earn all-America status.   The Wildcats' 54 NCAA national championships in track and field are the most by any program in NCAA history in one sport.  ACU is fourth in NCAA history in total number of national championships (57), trailing only UCLA (108), Stanford (103) and USC (96).

One of the coaches who made ACU's name synonymous with winning on the track gave his seal of approval to Barnier's hiring.

"Keith brings a wealth of Division I experience having coached at both Clemson and Alabama, and I'm looking forward to what he'll do at ACU," said former ACU coach and current Texas Tech coach Wes Kittley. "He's been at the Division I level and knows what it takes to win, and he's been at the Division II level and done a great job without a lot of resources. He's a great choice to lead the ACU program back to prominence."

Mosley said Barnier's experience at the highest levels of NCAA Division I track and field and his ties to ACU made him a very attractive candidate.

"Keith has an outstanding record in building championship programs, and, more importantly, championship-calibre people," Mosley said. "His familiarity with our program and its history, as well as the greater mission we have of impacting the lives of our student-athletes is going to be a great fit moving forward. To be able to find a candidate with experience at the heights of Division I track and field who also has an appreciation for the mission of ACU makes for a great day and future for ACU track and field."

In 2013, Minnesota State University Moorhead has continued its success in track and field under Barnier. The Dragon men were ranked sixth during the indoor season in the national computer rankings, highest in school history. The MSUM men finished second in the NSIC Indoor Championships, led by senior Derek Bredy, who was high point performer of the meet. Bredy was also named Central Region Athlete of the Year.

The Dragons qualified seven individuals for the indoor nationals (six men, including a 4x400 relay, and one woman). Senior Derek Bredy led the way with a fourth place finish in the 200.

In 2011-12, the Dragon program continued to flourish under Barnier's guidance. A dozen athletes qualified for the outdoor national meet, with two earning All-American honors -- Anna VanWechel and Christopher Heil.  Six athletes qualified for the indoor national meet, with all six earning All-American honors.

In addition, 10 athletes were named academic all-America by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA). At the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) indoor meet, the Dragon men were third and the women were fourth as they continued to be among the top programs in the conference. In the outdoor season, the men were a strong second, led by standout performances from Laquone Robinson and Derek Bredy, who shared high-point scorer honors, while the women were fifth.

In 2010-11, Barnier’s track and field program dispatched six more athletes and a relay team to the NCAA DII National Championship meets, plus collected a batch of team and individual academic laurels.  This came after the men's track and field won the NSIC Indoor and Outdoor Championships.

In 2009-10, Barnier guided the Dragons to 21 All-NSIC performances including four NSIC Champions.  He also had an athlete collect an NCAA DII All-American performance, a NSIC Newcomer of the Year honoree, five USTFCCCA All-Academic scholar awards and the men’s cross country team was honored as USTFCCCA All-Academic team.

In addition, Barnier’s bountiful recruiting harvest includes athletes that have produced State individual championships and numerous All-State performances.

Barnier's decorated coaching career included a stop at Division I Alabama, where he coached some of the premier athletes in collegiate track.

Barnier has earned a Level I and II USA Track and Field Coaching Certification. He was invited to participate in the USA Track and Field Elite Spring and Hurdle Summit as coach of several nationally-ranked student-athletes.

Barnier spent four years as an assistant track coach at St. Thomas (1987-90) and three years at Alabama (1990-92). He was appointed the Head Coach at Carleton College (Minn.) in the spring of 1993. In the fall of 1993, he accepted an assistant coaching position at Clemson and was appointed the Recruiting Coordinator and an Associate Professor. In 1997, he returned to Alabama as an assistant coach and as the recruiting coordinator for the Crimson Tide.

During his coaching career Barnier has coached seven NCAA national champions, seven Olympic qualifiers and 109 student-athletes have collected NCAA All-American certificates. His sprinters have won SEC, ACC, MIAC, NSIC, NCAA, USA, Jamaican, Canadian and World Championship titles plus an Olympic gold medal as well.

A native of Elk River, Barnier competed in the hurdle events for the Dragons from 1983-87. He helped lead the Dragons to eight consecutive NSIC Indoor and NSIC Outdoor titles. Barnier was a national qualifier in the 500 meters indoors and the 400 meter outdoor hurdles.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Fitness Management with a business concentration (1987) and later secured a Master of Arts degree in Athletic Administration from the University of St. Thomas (1990).

He and his wife, Sylvia, have one daughter, Angel.

Information for this story provided by ACU Athletics.