Caryl Smith Gilbert, a six-time Conference USA Coach of the Year at the University of Central Florida (UCF) who guided the Knights’ women’s team to a program-best fifth-place finish at both the 2013 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor and Indoor Championships, has been named USC’s director of track and field.
Smith Gilbert succeeds Ron Allice, who retired earlier this month after guiding the Trojans the past 19 years. Allice led the USC men’s and women’s programs to a combined 25 NCAA top 10 finishes, including the 2001 NCAA women’s team title as well as 32 individual NCAA titles.
“We are thrilled to have Caryl join the Trojan Family,” said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden. “USC has a glorious track and field tradition, and Caryl is the right person to build on that tradition. She is more than ready to take on this position.
“She has a superb history of success in her career. She knows how to develop athletes, as evidenced by the steady improvement of her UCF program and the number of records her athletes set,” Haden added. “She has recruited very well and knows the recruiting landscape in California. And her athletes have performed incredibly well academically.”
Smith Gilbert, who has produced four NCAA individual champions and more than 50 conference titlists in her career, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity, a huge opportunity. While it is difficult to leave the program we built at UCF and I will forever be thankful for the support I received there, I am very excited about becoming a USC Trojan. I would like to thank Pat Haden and [Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services] Magdi El Shahawy for considering me, talking to me and helping me through the process.
“I know we can win championships at USC and we will be a powerhouse program for both men and women,” she added. “I am from the West Coast, and I look forward to getting back there. The academic and athletic tradition at USC is unparalleled. and I plan to continue the tradition of winning and add to the numerous national championships USC has already won.”
Smith Gilbert spent the past six seasons (2008-13) at UCF overseeing the women’s track and field and cross-country programs after serving as an assistant at the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama and Penn State.
During her UCF tenure, the Knights won six Conference USA track and field outdoor and indoor crowns. Her athletes were named All-Americans more than 100 times and set more than 100 school records. Academically, her team’s GPA exceeded 3.0 nearly every term.
UCF’s fifth-place showing at the NCAA outdoor meet this year was the best finish by a non-BCS team since 2000 and its 35 points more than doubled the previous program best. Smith Gilbert was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association South Region Coach of the Year for a fifth time this year as she guided UCF to its first outdoor national top 10 ranking in the association’s poll.
She was the only coach to have three 100-meter runners ranked among the top 10-seeded qualifiers at the NCAA meet. Twelve school records were broken in the 2013 outdoor season while the team won its fourth-straight C-USA title, a feat unmatched by any other women’s track and field program in conference history.
In Smith Gilbert’s first two seasons at UCF (2008 and 2009), her athletes broke 30 of the school’s indoor and outdoor school records. She also served as the jumps and multievents coach of Team USA at the 2009 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Berlin.
A 1991 graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Smith Gilbert holds a bachelor’s degree in film and television production. She also holds master’s degrees in sport management and sport psychology from the University of Tennessee.