ABILENE, Texas – Sunday afternoon, Abilene Christian University will honor Texas Tech Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Wes Kittley as their Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, its most prestigious alumni award.
"I'm just so humbled and honored," said Kittley. "I'm an Abilene Christian grad and I spent so much time there as a coach. It's going to be a real neat homecoming to go back and thank them. I'm going to see a lot of my friends, teammates and a lot of the kids that I coached there. I'm very proud of this. That's where it all started for me, and I wouldn't be where I am today without it."
Kittley's time at Abilene Christian was – and still is – nothing short of legendary. He was outstanding as a student-athlete for the Wildcats, thrice being named an NAIA All-American in the 800m. Once he graduated, he helped ACU track and field become one of the biggest dynasties in college sports. In just 15 years, Kittley's cross country and track and field programs combined for 29 national championships. In 1996, Kittley made history when he led his men's and women's teams to a clean sweep of the indoor and outdoor national titles, making him the first to do so at any level of the NCAA. His group then did it again in 1999.
By the end of his tenure at ACU, Kittley had coached 12 Olympians, three Pan-American Games athletes, five World University Games competitors, 16 athletes who qualified for the world championships, and one U.S. national champion. In 2006, Kittley was named to the Lone Star Conference's Hall of Honor for his coaching efforts; he won the league's Coach of the Year title 19 times.
Kittley took the Tech job in 2000, and has since led the Red Raiders to nine Big 12 Championships. With the foundation of several legendary athletes over the last 20 years, Tech is now in the golden age of its track and field program. The men's squad has won four straight conference titles, including back-to-back sweeps of the indoor and outdoor championships. In 2019, the Red Raiders won the NCAA Outdoor Championship, marking the first time a men's athletics program at Tech has won a national championship. He was named the USTFCCCA's National Coach of the Year, a first for a Tech coach.
Over his 20 years at Tech alone, he has coached 28 NCAA champions, 257 first-team All-America athletes, 173 Big 12 champions, nine Big 12 team championships, 13 Olympians, eight Olympic medalists, seven top-five and has recorded 14 top-10 NCAA team finishes.
Kittley will be formally presented the Alumnus of the Year Award at ACU's annual Alumni Day Luncheon at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, in the Hunter Welcome Center on ACU's campus.