Jul 5, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Harlis Meaders, associate head coach at Florida State University and a former record-setting Tar Heel student-athlete, is the new head coach of the University of North Carolina’s men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs.
Meaders just completed his 18th year at Florida State, helping the Seminoles win the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s NCAA Division I men’s program of the year award for the second consecutive year. The Seminole men’s and women’s programs have both finished among the top five nationally in each of the four years that the program of the year award has been presented. In the last six years, Florida State track and field and cross country student-athletes have won 19 Academic All-America honors.
Meaders has been the associate head coach since 2004, and previously served as the Seminoles recruiting coordinator. The Seminoles have won multiple national and ACC championships during his time in Tallahassee, Fla.
Meaders, a captain of the 1992 UNC team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference outdoor title, is only the sixth head track and field coach at Carolina in the last 60 years. He succeeds Dennis Craddock, who led the Tar Heel program from 1985-2012, and won 45 ACC cross country and tracktitles, more than any coach in any sport in the conference’s history.
“In talking to people about Harlis, I kept hearing about his unwavering commitment to competitive success on the track combined with hisfocus on academic achievement, personal integrity and character,” says UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “(Florida State athletic director) Randy Spetman gave Harlis one of the strongest personal references I’ve ever received for a head coaching candidate. Harlis has helped Florida State winNCAA and ACC championships and developed individual champions and international-caliber athletes. But he has also has coached a Rhodes Scholar and several Academic All-Americans, created the track program’s Team Creed and ran a mentor program for the entire athletic department. He has the right blend of academic, athletic and personal achievement that we are looking for to develop our young men and women.”
“I’m extremely delighted to have the opportunity to reunite with the Carolina family,” says Meaders. “I’d like to thank Bubba Cunningham and the search committee for providing this opportunity to once again wear Carolina Blue and White. I’m looking forward to helping write the next chapter of Carolina track & field andcross country history.
“I’m a product of North Carolina track & field,” Meaders says. “I was born and raised in the state and had the privilege to compete at the University of North Carolina. If you’ve every worn the Carolina Blue & White, you know how I feel. Carolina is an extremely special place and it’s an honor to give back to the university and the community that has given so much to me.”
“North Carolina is getting a phenomenal head coach,” says Florida State head track and field coach Bob Braman. “Harlis Meaders could have very easily been our head coach the last 12 years instead of me. He’s more than ready to be a head coach and this was a dream opportunity for Harlis. We hate to lose him but we completely understood that if he had any chance to go toNorth Carolina, as an alum where he was a phenomenal student-athlete, this was going to be too big for him to pass up. North Carolina is getting a great coach and somebody that I think can continue what Coach Craddock has done for thelast three decades.”
Meaders coached the throwing events at FSU in addition to his duties as the associate head coach. He oversaw daily operations, including team travel and budget and was the squad’s liaison with the athletic department administration, compliance, facilities, admissions, financial aid and the business office. Braman described Meaders’ contributions to “like having co-head coaches.”
He coached 11 different Florida State throwers to 22 All-America honors and won 22 ACC indoor and outdoor titles. The male and female athletes he has coached hold more than three-quarters of the top 10 all-time school bests in the discus, javelin, shot put and weight throws.
He worked with multi-event standout Gonzalo Barroilhet, who won the 2008 NCAA indoor heptathlon as a freshman, finished fourth in the 2012 NCAA outdoor championships in the decathlon, was named the ACC’s Top Scholar-Athlete for track and field in 2012 and will be competing for Chile in the upcoming Olympics; his second time in the Summer Games.
Meaders coached Garrett Johnson, who in 2005 won a pair of NCAA titles in the shot and became the first FSU student-athlete to be named a Rhodes Scholar. Meaders was named the NCAA East Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2005.
A native of Monroe, N.C., Meaders competed at Carolina from 1988-92 in the discus, shot and 35-pound weight throw. He won an ACC indoortitle in the weight throw in 1992 and won back-to-back outdoor crowns in the discus in 1991 and 1992. He set the UNC record in the discus, a mark that has been surpassed by just one other Tar Heel in the last 20 years. He competed in both the NCAA championships and the 1992 United States Olympic Trials.
"This announcement should make it 'Harlis Meaders Day' in the state of North Carolina and certainly here at UNC,” says Craddock. “I am so happy for Harlis, as he is so deserving of this position. I recruited him to UNC from Monroe many years ago. His roots are in the Tar Heel State and his passion for coaching and education are here at UNC. He will do a great job being that mentor, coach and leader for our student-athletes. I will support him and help him in any way that I can."
“I’d like to thank the people that have supported me throughout this process,” says Meaders. “This is just the first step. I encourage the alumni and fans of Carolina track & field to continue to support the program as we move forward.
“Dennis Craddock has done a fantastic job leading this program over the last 27 years. On behalf of all of those student-athletes, I applaud everything he’s done for the university. He has been a mentor and a father figure to hundreds of student-athletes under his charge. I count it as one of the many blessings in my life to have been a part of his tutelage. Ilook forward to working with the current student-athletes and recruiting the next generation of Tar Heels.”
The 41-year-old Meaders (turns 42 on July 8th) began his coaching career at Western Carolina, where he spent three years as an assistant coach while earning his master’s degree in physical education.