Roberts to lead Marshall track & field and cross country
Published 7:29 pm Monday, July 10, 2023
By GRANT TRAYLOR
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. –Marshall University Director of Athletics Christian Spears announced the hiring of Keith Roberts as Marshall’s new Director of Track and Field and Cross Country on Monday.
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“The people we bring to Marshall have to understand this region, they must be inspired by a bigger vision and they must know the ways in which they will contribute and the ways in which they will lead,” Spears said. “Coach Roberts is that person. He is committed to building a championship program that will compete immediately in the Sun Belt. He is student-centered and his student-athletes will have a remarkable experience while here. He will embrace this community and region and so will his family.”
Roberts comes to Marshall after serving in the same capacity at Eastern Illinois over the past two years.
“I’d like to thank President Brad Smith, Athletic Director Christian Spears and Senior Associate Athletic Director Beatrice Crane Banford for this opportunity,” Roberts said. “Marshall is a great university with an amazing history and rich tradition. I look forward to getting to work and building a championship program.”
In the 2022-23 season, Roberts led Eastern Illinois to three Ohio Valley Conference Championships in Women’s Cross Country, Men’s Cross Country and Men’s Indoor Track.
Roberts was named the 2023 OVC Indoor Men’s Track Coach of the Year and, during his two seasons, Roberts had seven EIU student-athletes compete at the NCAA Championships West Preliminaries.
In addition to the success in competition, Roberts’ teams were also successful in the classroom. The women’s track team boasted of a 3.57 Team GPA and the men’s track team earned a 3.19 Team GPA.
Spears said that Roberts’ formula for success is one that resonates well as he starts with the Thundering Herd.
“If we are going to be the overall best athletic program in the Sun Belt – which is always the goal for us – we must be great at Track and Field and Cross Country,” Spears said. “Those six sports, those student-athletes, Coach Roberts and his staff will make all the difference as we look to reach our full potential as an Athletic Department.”
Prior to taking over the Eastern Illinois program, Roberts served as the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach for Pitt with an emphasis on sprints, hurdles and relays where he mentored several national contenders and school record-holders.
That experience included leading Pitt’s men’s track team to its highest-ever team finishes in the ACC Championships when the team finished fourth in the 2021 ACC Indoor Championships and fourth in the 2019 ACC Outdoor Championships.
Among those he mentored were 2017 All-American and ACC Champion Desmond Palmer and 2018 ACC champion Desiree Garland. More recently, he coached Shyheim Wright to the No. 2 time in Pitt history in the 60-meter hurdles – a time that ranked him 7th in the NCAA.
Before his time as an assistant at Pitt, Roberts helped lead Grand Valley State to several NCAA Division II Championships in both the team and individual realms.
The highlights of his stint at Grand Valley State included leading the women’s indoor and outdoor teams to consecutive NCAA Championships in 2011 and 2012.
On the men’s side, Roberts also coached Sean Wells to NCAA Championship titles in the 60-meter hurdles and 110-meter hurdles. Roberts coached 37 GVSU student-athletes to All-American honors while 20 student-athletes set school records.
In conjunction with the news, Coach Roberts announced that Caleb Bowen will be retained as Marshall’s Head Cross Country Coach while Andrea Deem will stay on as an assistant track and field coach.
Roberts ran track and played football at Kent State University where he earned his B.A. in Interpersonal Communications. He and his wife, Tessa, have two children – Kaia Grace and Keith Anthony III.