Jim VanHootegem was announced as Oklahoma’s track and field and cross country coach Monday.
VanHootegem has been an assistant at Texas A&M since 2004, helping the Aggies win seven NCAA titles, 14 conference titles and producing 22 individual NCAA champions.
“Jim has worked and been mentored by some of the finest coaches in the history of intercollegiate track and field and has built his own distinguished pedigree as a coach,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “As we moved through the search process, it was evident that Jim’s approach has always modeled the comparable core values and team concepts that guide our athletics programs here at OU.”
VanHootegem replaces Martin Smith, who had coached the Sooners since 2005 until leaving last month to take the Iowa State job.
VanHootegem was named the 2009 Men’s National Assistant Coach of the Year by USA Track and Field and the Collegiate Cross Country Coaches Association.
“The opportunity to work for a program that shares my vision for its student-athletes and boasts and extremely passionate fan base is truly a special situation,” VanHootegem said in a release. “I am looking forward to the challenge of working in a program that possesses an extensive history of producing championship-caliber teams and student-athletes.”
Before going to Texas A&M, VanHootegem served as an assistant under legendary coach John McDonnell and Arkansas from 1994-96. He also spent time at Miami, Texas-Pan American, Mississippi State and San Diego State among others.
“I think Oklahoma made a wise decision by hiring Jim,” Texas A&M’s Pat Henry said in the release. “Jim is a good man. He is organized and knows what it takes to build a team. He will surround himself with people who can build an excellent program at Oklahoma and embrace those already associated with the program.”
VanHootegem’s only head coaching experience came at Chicago’s North Park University from 1991-94.
He was a seven-time All-American at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., from 1987-90. In 1989, he helped North Central win the NCAA Division III indoor and outdoor national titles.
Van Hootegem’s hiring is subject to approval by the OU Board of Regents.