CMU parts ways with director of track and field Willie Randolph

Central Michigan University athletics director Dave Heeke announced Wednesday his decision to part ways with director of track and field/cross country Willie Randolph after his four-year tenure.

Randolph, who has held his position with the men’s and women’s programs since 2009, saw his contract expire this year and will not receive an extension.

“I have been reviewing the program the last few days and it came to a point where we felt it was in the best interest of the program to move in a different direction,” Heeke said. “Primarily, we needed new leadership and vision for the combined program.”

Heeke said his evaluation of Randolph’s leadership, management and direction over the past four years were all taken into account when deciding not to renew his contract.

Much like many other programs in the Mid-American Conference and NCAA, Heeke said CMU will continue to have one director lead both the men’s and women’s programs.

“This is the most effective and efficient model for us to utilize and we will continue with a consistent structure of having a combined program,” he said.

As director, Randolph produced 19 individual MAC titles, 47 All-MAC performances and four All-Americans.

Randolph isn’t the only coach leaving the program this offseason.

Assistant coach Bobby Wilson finished out the spring season, but will not have his contract renewed. Heeke said all other assistant coaches will remain on staff during the national search for Randolph's replacement.

Assistant head coach Matt Kaczor will fill in as interim director of the program until the conclusion of the search.

John Regenfuss, associate director of athletic communications, did not make Kaczor available for comment Thursday.

Randolph did not return calls made by Central Michigan Life.

Randolph catching heat

Randolph received public criticism in April when Central Michigan Life published that five members of the men’s track and field team quit, while current members remained unhappy with Randolph’s leadership.

Senior Greg Knaus and juniors Ross Parsons, Cory Noeker and Ryan Brooks quit the team within two weeks of each other following the indoor MAC championships in March, while redshirt freshman Derek Thornton left two weeks prior.

The CMU men's team finished last at the indoor MAC championships in February, while the women's team finished ninth.

The departing athletes suggested others would follow if there weren’t changes made in the program’s leadership, claiming Randolph wasn’t the man for the job.

Knaus, a former captain, said Randolph’s poor training strategies and lack of respect for athletes were reasons he believed more athletes would leave the program.

Randolph shook off the accusations and repeated, “we’re really just focused on moving forward.”