Oklahoma tabs VanHootegem to lead track and field, cross country programs
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Joe Castiglione named Jim VanHootegem to lead the track and field and cross country programs Monday.
With team championships, individual All-Americans and national recruiting prowess, VanHootegem is regarded as one of the nation's most versatile track coaches. He has been a part of 12 NCAA Division I team championships and 27 conference championships during his collegiate career.
VanHootegem joins the Sooners after serving as an assistant coach at Texas A&M where he played an integral role in building one of the nation's most dominant track and field programs working with head coach Pat Henry. The Aggies won seven team NCAA championships, 14 conference championships and produced 22 individual NCAA champions during his time at Texas A&M.
"We're excited to welcome Jim VanHootegem as our head coach for men's & women's track and field and cross country," Castiglione said. "Jim has worked for and been mentored by some of the finest coaches in the history of intercollegiate track and field and has built his own distinguished pedigree as a coach.
"As we moved through the search process it was evident that Jim's approach has always modeled the comparable core values and team concepts that guide our athletics programs here at OU. He is committed to doing everything in his ability to provide our student-athletes with the very best experience possible, with a philosophy that prioritizes attaining a high level of academic achievement and competing for championships.
"His national recruiting expertise and success combined with his familiarity with the Big 12 Conference also makes him an excellent fit for the Sooners."
VanHootegem was named the 2009 Men's National Assistant Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and has displayed a propensity for helping young men and women excel in all areas during their collegiate careers. In total, seven of his student-athletes have earned Arthur Ashe Jr. Sport Scholar honors for their athletic and academic distinction.
"The opportunity to work for a program that shares my vision for its student-athletes and boasts an extremely passionate fan base is truly a special situation," VanHootegem said. "I am looking forward to the challenge of working in a program that possesses an extensive history of producing championship-caliber teams and student-athletes. I'm also excited to put together a talented coaching staff and share my vision and expectations for OU track and field with our student-athletes."
In addition to his work at Texas A&M, VanHootegem was involved in building another perennial NCAA powerhouse program during his tenure at Arkansas with head coach John McDonnell from 1994-96. During that stretch, the Razorbacks won five NCAA championships and seven SEC titles and produced 55 NCAA All-Americans and 14 individual national champions. At Miami (Fla.) from 2001-04, he was part of staffs that were named Big East Coaching Staff of the Year five times and won five conference championships. He was also part of a staff that led Texas-Pan American to a conference title in 1997.
"I think Oklahoma made a wise decision by hiring Jim," Henry saud. "He is organized and knows what it takes to build a team. He will surround himself with people who can build an excellent program at Oklahoma and embrace those already associated with the program. When I came to Texas A&M from LSU nine years ago, Jim was one of the first guys I hired. He is an excellent coach and has been an integral part of developing our program at Texas A&M. He's a good friend and will be missed greatly."
VanHootegem's litany of accomplished student-athletes at Texas A&M represents a virtual who's who in the track and field scene. In total at Texas A&M, VanHootegem coached eight student-athletes who established school records: Daphne Fitzpatrick (heptathlon), Julian Reid (triple jump), Yasmine Regis (triple jump), Fabrice Lapierre (long jump), Laura Asimakis (pole vault), Caroline Wolf (indoor high jump), Trinity Otto (indoor heptathlon) and Jena Hemann (indoor pentathlon).
VanHootegem was named a Mondo Regional Assistant Coach of the Year at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., for his work with Texas A&M's jumpers. Other NCAA Division I coaching experience on VanHootegem's resume includes stints at San Diego State (2001) and Mississippi State (1998-2000). He also owns head coaching experience at North Park University in Chicago (1991-94).
While at Arkansas, VanHootegem began coaching former Razorback sprinter Vincent Henderson. Under VanHootegem's tutelage, Henderson posted the 10th-fastest time in the 100 meters (10.00) in U.S. history in 1996. In 1997, Henderson went on to win gold medals in the 100 meters and 400-meter relay at the World University Games in Palermo, Italy.
A Level II coach and instructor as certified by USA Track & Field, VanHootegem was a seven time All-American at North Central (Ill.) from 1987-90. In 1989 he helped lead North Central to the NCAA Division III indoor and outdoor national championships. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in physical education from North Central in 1990.