Head coach Ron Mann led the Cardinals to eight BIG EAST team titles and nearly 50 All-America honors.
Ron Mann is in his first season as the men's and women's cross country and track and field head coach at the University of Louisville following a highly successful 24-year stint in the same role at Northern Arizona University.
Mann, who was introduced as U of L's head coach at a press conference on July 2, 2004, at the Cardinal Park Track Stadium, brings an impressive resume and a proven record of success at the national level to the Cardinal track and field program and will lead the way as U of L embarks on its move into the Big East Conference in 2005.
A coaching legend at Northern Arizona since his arrival there in 1980, Mann guided the Lumberjacks to a combined 58 Big Sky Conference championships in cross country and track and field and 16 top ten NCAA finishes while producing 107 All-Americans, five Olympians and four individual national champions. He earned 57 league coach of the year awards and won 12 NCAA Regional championships in cross country.
"I think it's a great step for our track and field and cross country programs for both our men and women to be able to attract Ron to this university," said U of L Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich, who previously worked with Mann while serving first as an assistant athletic director and later as director at Northern Arizona from 1984-92. "He will bring this program instant credibility. Ron has a very decorated resume in which only a few could measure themselves against.
"It is incredibly important to me that we can attract a person of Ron's caliber," added Jurich. "We want the best coaches available. This demonstrates our commitment to excellence, confirms our commitment to track and field at U of L, and lays the foundation for us to be competitive as we move into the Big East Conference. I had the opportunity to work with Ron before and while his record and accolades speak for themselves, he is a better person than a coach. I know our community will find that out very soon."
In his first season at the helm of the Cardinals' men's cross country program, Mann led U of L to four team titles, four individual titles, the program's best-ever finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet and a third-place finish at the 2004 Conference USA Champioships, just nine points out of first. The Cardinal men also had three runners earn All-Conference honors (Nurani Sheikh, Wesley Korir and Tim Kaiser), while Korir was named C-USA Freshman Runner of the Year.
His most recent All-America selections came in the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships where distance runners Travis Laird, Jinny Hanifan and Ida Nilsson -- who won the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and set the collegiate record in that event in the NCAA West Regional Championship -- earned national honors. The Lumberjacks had 15 athletes qualify in 22 events (men and women) for the NCAA regionals with seven advancing to the NCAA national meet.
In conference competition in 2004, the NAU men's and women's outdoor teams combined for 43 Big Sky all-conference peformances, including the championship in 14 events, as the women's team claimed the league championship and men's team finished as runner-up. In the fall of 2003, Mann's NAU men's cross country team finished third in the nation while the women placed 15th as six athletes earned All-America honors. Both teams won Big Sky Conference titles.
Following his graduation from NAU in 1972, Mann began his coaching career as an assistant at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College and Phoenix (Ariz.) Sunnyslope High School, his prep alma mater. He returned to NAU in 1980 to lead the women's program and assumed the head coaching reins of both men's and women's programs in 1982. He is a three-time member of the NAU Athletics Hall of Fame as an individual in 1999 and previous as athlete and coach of two championship cross country teams.
Prior to coaching, Mann competed in cross country and track and field at NAU and was a member of the Lumberjacks' 1971 Big Sky champion cross country team.
Besides the success on the track and trail, Mann's programs at NAU were outstanding in the classroom as well. In the 1990's, 60 NAU cross country student-athletes were named Academic All-Big Sky. During the 2002 spring semester, the combined track team posted a 3.04 GPA, which was one of the best in the nation according to the United States Track Association. Individually, the team included 34 student-athletes with a 3.25 GPA or higher.
Mann has extensive international experience as well to go along with his success at the collegiate level. He served as head coach of the U.S. Junior National Team at the 1993 Pan American Games and helped coach the medal-winning West team at the 1991 Olympic Festival.
The U of L head coach will continue his work with U.S. Track and Field as an assistant coach for the men's team when it prepares for the 2005 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Helsinki Finland. He will serve as one of five assistants and will be specifically involved with the jumping events for the U.S. team.
His success on and off the track has led to many other impressive accolades over the years for Mann, including induction into the Northern Arizona University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and induction into the Mt. SAC (Mt. San Antonio College) Relays Hall of Fame in 2001. The Mt. SAC Hall of Fame was created in 1985 to to honor athletes, coaches and friends who have made significant contributions both to the Relays and the sport of track and field. Mann was one of two people to be inducted in 2001 with the other being women's track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Married to the former Charlene Russell who hails from Corydon, Ind., Mann has three grown sons: Steve, Ryun and Brandon.