Longtime Illinois Track and Field director, Mike Turk, dismissed from Illinois

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Cameron Krasucki

The new Demirjian Park stands at 606 St Marys Road in Champaign April 24. Illinois athletic facilities spark a winning culture on campus.

By Jonathan Alday, Assistant Sports Editor

After 11 years, Illinois will see a new face leading the Illinois track and field and cross country programs. Athletic Director Josh Whitman announced that Mike Turk will not return for the 2022-2023 season.

“I want to thank Coach Turk for his longtime service to the University of Illinois,” said Whitman via press release. “Regrettably, following our Big Ten championship in 2015, competitive success in our men’s and women’s programs has been fleeting.”

Since the early 2010s high point, the two teams have seen minimal success. The men’s team finished in the top-five three times in the Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Championships early in Turk’s head coaching career, which started in 2012. In 2020, he ascended into the role of program director.

The women’s team has seen even less success, consistently placing towards the bottom of the Big Ten standings since 2014, with 2012 and 2013 being the only remnants of Illinois women’s track and field success. The Illini finished in the top-five in 2012 and in the top-two in 2013.

Turk joined Illinois first as assistant coach for jumps and throws from 2006 to 2010 and as interim head coach in 2010 and 2011. Since then, Turk coached numerous All-Americans and place-winners at NCAA championships.

“With the programs now combined under a single coaching structure and with the recent opening of Demirjian Park, the time is right to usher in a new era for our proud running and field event programs. We wish Coach Turk all the best in his future endeavors,” Whitman said.

With the recent development of Demirjian Park, the new home of Illinois track and field which opened on April of 2021, Whitman is hoping that a new face and vision for the program will be what the team needs in order to match the investment by the Athletics department with higher placings in the postseason.

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