CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- University of Illinois men’s track and field head coach Mike Turk announced the hiring of Gavin Kennedy as cross country and assistant track coach. Kennedy comes to Illinois after coaching three years on Iona’s men's and women's cross country/track and field staff, which included serving as an associate head coach of the program last season. At Illinois, Kennedy will take on the role of cross country coach for the fall season and lead the distance crew on the track in the spring.

“Coach Kennedy is making his way up the coaching ranks quickly,” Turk said. “He is a highly qualified coach and has a reputation as a tremendous recruiter. I’m thrilled he is joining us on staff, and I know he will make a major contribution. Although young, he brings tremendous experience with him from a perennial top-10 cross country program at Iona College. He was a part of anNCAA runner-up cross country team and recruited and coached a two-time national champion on the track at Iona.

“Gavin has a burning passion for the sport and a work ethic that is second to none. His aggressiveness and confidence will have an impact upon the athletes in our program. I know his athletes will be well prepared, both physically and mentally, to perform up to their abilities.”

During his tenure at Iona College, he led the men’s cross country squad to three consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including a second-place showing in 2008, and three straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships. His athletes won a pair of individual NCAA titles on the track, which marked the first in school history, and earned a total of 11 All-America honors over his three years. Last season, he helped the Gaels to a banner year, as the program finished sixth overall in the 2010-11 USTFCCCA Division I Program of the Year standings. Iona was one of 15 Division I programs to score at all three NCAA Championships in 2010-11.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity presented to me at Illinois,” Kennedy said. “When I came to visit I was excited about where Coach Turk wanted to take the program. His vision and passion is what made my decision easy. The University of Illinois has a storied history of distance running, and we plan to make an impact on both the Big Ten and NCAA level over the coming years.”

Kennedy, a native of Waterford, Ireland, comes to Illinois with an extensive background as both a distance performer and an assistant coach, having served in both capacities at his alma mater DePaul. He was also an assistant at Northwestern University and Saint Louis before his time at Iona.

Kennedy joined the staff at Saint Louis after the 2007 cross country season and worked primarily with the men's and women's distance and middle distance track athletes. Before his one-year stint with the Northwestern women's cross country squad, Kennedy coached for two seasons at DePaul, his alma mater. His experience with the Blue Demons included assisting with travel, community service and training.

During his time as an undergrad at DePaul, Kennedy served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and on the DePaul University Captains' Council. He broke the two oldest records in DePaul history in the indoor mile and outdoor 1500m. For his efforts, Kennedy was named MVP of the men's indoor track team in both 2004 and 2005 and was named to the all-conference team in all four of his years on the team. In addition, he was named to Conference USA's All-Academic Team in 2005 and the BIG EAST's All-Academic squad as a senior in 2006.

As a competitor on the professional track and field circuit, Kennedy has been ranked in the top 15 in his native Ireland in the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500 meters. In 2004 he ranked No. 5 for the indoor mile, improving the standing to No. 4 the following year.

Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from DePaul in 2006 and is also a USTFCCCA certified endurance coach.