After resurrecting the women's cross country and track and field programs at the University of North Georgia (UNG), head coach Tom Williams announced his retirement March 17.
"I have been blessed beyond measure with the opportunities that Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves and UNG have given me to do something I have a passion for," Williams said. "I have had many great memories from my time at UNG, including a trip to the NCAA Division II National Championship meet and a Peach Belt Conference championship. But it is the lasting relationships I have developed with the student-athletes and staff that I will forever cherish."
The cross country program advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship Meet for the first time ever in 2014 under Williams's guidance. In his time as head coach, the cross country team has finished in the top two at the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) meet six straight years, including the program's first conference title in 2017.
Williams is a two-time PBC Coach of the Year in cross country and the 2019 PBC women's track and field Coach of the Year. He became the head coach of the cross country program in 2009, returned in 2012 to restart the program and is now the longest tenured cross country coach in program history.
"We are extremely grateful for the service that Coach Williams has provided countless UNG student-athletes in his years with the cross country and track programs," Reeves said. "Aside from winning championships for UNG, he has built a strong foundation and legacy that will live on within our programs, department and the greater UNG community."
Williams has coached multiple all-conference runners in both cross country and track and field during his career at UNG, including Brittany Truitt, only the 10th women's cross country runner in PBC history to be named all-conference four times. He has also guided 27 athletes to U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) all-region status and the cross country program's first Freshman of the Year honor, awarded to Karmen LeRoy this past season.
In 2017, Williams restarted the women's track and field program and has coached at least one athlete to a PBC championship in each of the three years the program has been active. During the abbreviated 2020 season, the Nighthawks won both meets the team competed in and had athletes closing in on NCAA provisional marks to qualify for the national championships. Under his direction, the track and field program had its first-ever Freshman of the Year, awarded in 2018 to Abigail Kirkland, and has had 19 all-conference honorees in the short tenure of the program.
Outside of competition, Williams has coached 85 PBC all-academic honorees and 39 USTFCCCA scholar-athletes. His teams have been named USTFCCCA all-academic 10 times as well.
A national search for Williams's replacement will begin immediately.