KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart announced Tuesday that Beth Alford-Sullivan has been named the director of track and field and cross country at the University of Tennessee. Sullivan recently completed her 15th season at Penn State, including the last eight as the director and head coach of a combined men's and women's program. Sullivan originally joined Penn State in the fall of 1999 as the head coach of the women's track and field program.
Alford-Sullivan will be representing Tennessee at the USA Track and Field competitions in Sacramento, California this week, and a media availability in Knoxville will be held next Tuesday, July 1, with details to follow.
"I am ecstatic that Beth has accepted our offer to become the director of our track and field and cross country programs here at the University of Tennessee," said Hart. "Beth brings with her a very impressive skill set as well as a record of consistent success in all phases of leadership in directing a multi-faceted, combined men's and women track and field and cross country program. We welcome Beth and her husband, Jim, to the Volunteer family."
Alford-Sullivan has a tremendous record of success at Penn State, including the women's team finishing the 2013-14 season ranked as the No. 6 Track & Field and Cross Country program in the nation by the USTFCCCA. Her tenure has produced nine Big Ten team championships, including the women's program capturing its fifth Big Ten outdoor championship (fifth in the last seven years) and second consecutive this May. Penn State won eight Big Ten championships overall in 2013-14 (including one team and seven individual), equaling the school record set the year before. Sullivan was named the Big Ten Women's Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, her fifth overall Big Ten Coach of the Year outdoor honor. She has earned nine overall Coach of the Year accolades at Penn State.
"I am honored and so very excited to accept the position of director of track and field and cross country at the University of Tennessee," said Alford-Sullivan. "I would like to thank vice chancellor and director of athletics, Dave Hart, and senior associate athletics director Donna Thomas for presenting this opportunity to me and for their great energy and commitment to the future of this program. They are dedicated leaders, and I am honored to join the department and lead the track and field and cross country program.
"My husband Jim and I look forward to being a part of this great university, athletic department and community."
The Nittany Lions sent 38 competitors to the NCAA First Round this year, 15 of whom qualified for the NCAA Championships. Four Penn State competitors earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships, bringing the total during Sullivan's tenure to 158 (116 women and 42 men). In 2010, Penn State's women's program ranked third in the annual Program of the Year standings, trailing only Oregon and Florida.
In addition to the 158 All-Americans, the litany of accomplishments under Sullivan's leadership at Penn State includes nine Big Ten team titles, 88 Big Ten individual champions, 19 Big Ten Champion relays, and four individual NCAA champions. The Nittany Lions have also won one NCAA Champion relay, one Big Ten "Triple Crown," eight Big Ten Championship records, and five Big Ten Athletes of the Year.
The Penn State women's program has scored in the last 12 NCAA Outdoor Championships as well as in 11 of the last 12 NCAA Indoor Championships. The squad has also recorded two "trophy team" finishes in the last five years, placing fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2008 and 2010.
The Nittany Lion men's program has finished in the top 25 in the last seven consecutive NCAA track and field competitions. The 2013 indoor team finished ninth nationally and played 11th at the 2011 NCAA Indoors. The 2010-11 men's program also finished 11th in the "John McDonnell Program of the Year" standings, honoring overall combined program excellence between the cross country, indoor, and outdoor seasons.
Excellence in the classroom has also been a staple under Sullivan at Penn State, as the women's team has earned United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honors in each of her 14 seasons at Penn State. In 2010, they were named the USTFCCCA Scholar Team of the Year. The Nittany Lions also piled up numerous All-Big Ten academic honors. The men's and women's programs both posted GPAs over 3.0 during recent fall semesters.
One of the most impressive seasons during Sullivan's tenure was in 2012, when the Nittany Lions featured 12 First Team All-Americans and set multiple school records. The men's 4x400-meter relay squad finished second in the NCAA Indoor Championships, the highest finish in that event in school history, while setting and subsequently breaking the school record several times, last at 3:05.22. The team also set the relay school record of 3:01.52 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2012.
The 2011-12 campaign also featured eight individual Big Ten champions and two conference champion relays. The cross country squad also finished 13th in 2011-12, the highest finish for the program in almost two decades.
Overall in Big Ten competition during her time at Penn State, Sullivan has seen her women competitors claim 50 individual conference titles as well as 13 relay wins over the past 11 years. Additionally, the men have won 21 individual titles under Sullivan and two relay wins. Since 2003, the Penn State women's program has finished no less than fourth in the overall team standings.
Sullivan, 48, joined Penn State after five seasons at Stanford, where she coached more than 30 NCAA All-American athletes and one NCAA individual champion as the women's coordinator for the Cardinal track program. Sullivan was also the head coach at Mankato State from 1993-95 and an assistant at Southeast Missouri State from 1991-93. She graduated with a degree in social work in 1989 from the University of Minnesota, where she competed in cross country and track and field, serving as captain of the cross country team from her sophomore through her senior seasons.
Sullivan's husband, Jim, served as a full-time instructor in the kinesiology department at Penn State who also volunteered his time as the Penn State pole vault coach.