WKU track, cross country coach Jenkins rewarded with raise

Sam Osborne

Erik Jenkins seemingly knows only how to win.

As an athlete at WKU in the 1990s, he was a Sun Belt Conference champion and NCAA qualifier. As a coach, he has led his squads to numerous Sun Belt championships already and sent a school-record 21 athletes to last year’s outdoor track and field NCAA Mideast Regional.

“Coach Jenkins will outwork anyone you put him up against,” said Craig Morehead, track and field assistant coach. “He will do anything he has to do to get the job done.”

Jenkins’ efforts in his first two years as head coach resulted in a pay raise by the WKU Board of Regents this past summer — something both Morehead and former WKU Head Coach Curtiss Long say was well-deserved.

“It’s good for anyone to be rewarded for a job well done,” Morehead said.

Jenkins replaced Long in January 2008 after spending eight seasons as an assistant. He immediately continued WKU’s tradition of excellence, winning the Sun Belt outdoor track and field title in both men’s and women’s track in his first semester on the job.

Long, who now works with the title Head Coach Emeritus, has stayed close to both WKU’s track and cross country programs.

The 31-time Sun Belt Coach of the Year vividly remembers recruiting Jenkins during his time as head coach.

“I recruited him out of Florida,” Long said. “He looked to be an athlete with limited experience, but he had great potential and was willing to work hard.”

Years later, Jenkins’ hard work and determination is still evident.

“Jenkins puts in 60- and 70-hour weeks,” Long said. “He works hard in all aspects as a coach. He has been very successful in getting quality athletes on the Hill.”

Though Jenkins is crucial to WKU’s success, he knows that it’s the student athletes who are responsible for bringing home the titles.

“We ask the kids to take care of themselves both academically and athletically,” Jenkins said. “They have to balance being a student athlete. On a day-to-day basis, they know that they need to and what’s right and what it takes to be successful.”

Long thinks Jenkins has been able to accomplish so much during his time as head coach because Jenkins involves all those around him. 

“He looks at success as a group effort,” Long said. “The administration, student athletes, everyone is involved. He is quite humble about his success and quick to share it with others.”