National Champion Head Coach Caryl Smith Gilbert to Lead Georgia Track & Field

Sports

ATHENS, Ga. — Caryl Smith Gilbert, who just led the USC women to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor National Championship and the men to another top-5 finish, has been named Georgia’s Director of Men’s and Women’s Track and Field, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks announced Sunday. Smith Gilbert will be the first female head coach of a men’s sports program in the history of Georgia Athletics. 

“It is a great day to be a Bulldog,” Brooks said. “I am thrilled to welcome Caryl Smith Gilbert to the University of Georgia. She is a phenomenal coach, skilled motivator and strong leader who will make our entire program better. Caryl exudes energy and passion that resonates with student-athletes, recruits and colleagues. At UGA we aim to win championships in every sport, and she leads and coaches with the integrity, tenacity and toughness that aligns perfectly with our mission.” 

“I am thankful for the opportunity to lead the University of Georgia’s Cross Country and Track & Field program,” said Smith Gilbert.  “Georgia combines elite athletics and academics with outstanding leadership, in a premier athletics conference. When I spoke to Josh [Brooks], I was immediately impressed with his vision and passion for Georgia Athletics and track and field. I’m thankful to President Morehead and Josh for leading the way, and opening doors for women and particularly women of color. It’s an honor to be Georgia’s first female head coach of a men’s sport. I firmly believe we can continue to build upon UGA’s strong program and compete for and win SEC and National Championships. I am excited to get started in Athens.”

This year’s USC women’s squad gave Smith Gilbert her second national title in the last three NCAA Outdoor National Championships, while the men finished in the top-five for the fourth time in the last seven championships under her guidance. 

Smith Gilbert has spent the last eight seasons as the Director of Men and Women’s Track and Field at USC, building the program into a national powerhouse. She guided the women’s team to a 2018 NCAA Outdoor National Championship, earning the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Women’s National Coach of the Year honor. That same season, the Trojans’ men’s squad finished second at the NCAA indoor championships. 

The Trojan track and field teams combined to finish in the top-10 an impressive 16 times in Smith Gilbert’s eight seasons at the helm. She mentored over 200 first-team All-Americans, while her teams set close to 130 school top-10 marks and 50 program records. Her athletes also won over 20 individual NCAA event titles. 

Smith Gilbert has garnered the USTFCCCA West Region Coach of the Year award on six occasions and is a five-time South Region Coach of the Year, two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year and six-time Conference USA Coach of the Year. In 2015, she became the first woman to earn the Pac-12 Men’s Coach of the Year honor. 

“I am so appreciative of having had the opportunity to be a part of such a storied program at USC,” said Smith Gilbert.  “I will always be grateful not only to USC, but to former athletic director Pat Haden for giving me the opportunity to become one of the few women to lead a Power 5 men’s and women’s track and field program. None of our historic success would have been possible without the loving support of the amazing staff, athletes, coaches, faculty and administration. As coaches we understand that change is part of our journey. It is with much love, appreciation, admiration and gratitude that I move on from USC. I will be forever grateful to everyone in the USC family for all that you have done and continue to do for my family and myself.” 

USC’s 2018 NCAA Outdoor T&F Championship was just the second women’s title in program history. The women claimed the crown with a come-from-behind victory in the 4X400m relay, the meet’s final event. That national championship was the culmination of another successful season under Smith Gilbert’s guidance. The women’s team also won the Pac-12 title, while the men’s squad finished third. 

She led the USC men’s program to top-five national finishes in the outdoor championships in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2021 while the women finished in the top-five of the outdoor event in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. 

Prior to her time with the Trojans, Smith Gilbert was a six-time Conference USA Coach of the Year at the University of Central Florida. She guided the Knights’ women’s team to a program-best fifth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. 

The Knights won six C-USA track and field indoor and outdoor crowns, while her athletes earned All-America status more than 100 times and set over 100 school records. 

Smith Gilbert spent five seasons (2003-07) as an assistant coach at Tennessee, where she was responsible for coaching sprints, hurdles and jumps. Her Lady Vol athletes won three NCAA titles and seven Southeastern Conference crowns. In 2005, Tennessee won its first NCAA indoor championship as her athletes combined for 24 All-America honors. 

Smith Gilbert was an assistant coach at Alabama for three years (2000-02) and an assistant at Penn State from 1998-99. 

Prior to her career in the collegiate ranks, the Denver, Colo. native was the head coach at her prep alma mater, George Washington High, from 1994-97. In addition to her experience at the high school and collegiate levels, Smith Gilbert was an assistant with Team USA and was invited to coach the 2005 Pan Am Junior Championships. She was also selected to serve as an assistant coach for the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan. 

Smith Gilbert is a 1991 graduate of UCLA, where she was a three-time All-American and Pac-10 champion in the 100-meter dash, 4×100-meter relay and the 4×400-meter relay. She holds a bachelor’s degree in film and television production from UCLA and earned master’s degrees in sport management and sport psychology from the University of Tennessee.

Born on April 19, 1969, she is married to former NFL linebacker Greg Gilbert. They have three sons: Alex, Spencer and Osiris. 

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