PEMBROKE — After leading The University of North Carolina at Pembroke cross country and track and field programs to new highs over the last five years, head coach Gary Aycock has announced his retirement from coaching on Tuesday afternoon.
“After six years of coaching track and field and cross country at UNCP, it’s with excitement and sadness that I announce my retirement from coaching,” Aycock said. “My decision will allow me to spend more time with my family and further my teaching career.”
Aycock, who joined the school prior to the 2009-2010 season, has served as the head coach for both the mens and womens cross country programs for the last five seasons. He was named head coach of the mens and womens track and field programs prior to last season, having served the previous three seasons as an assistant. His retirement will be effective on July 1.
Assistant coach Adarian Barr will serve as UNCP’s interim head coach during the national search for a permanent replacement.
“Coach Aycock is leaving the program in fine shape with a great group of returning student-athletes and an outstanding freshman class coming in, the foundation is set for the cross country and track and field programs to keep moving in the right direction of competing for championships,” Barr said.
As the leader of UNCP’s cross country programs, Aycock coached the men to runner-up finishes at the Peach Belt Conference Championships in 2010 and 2011, while also coaching the women’s side to third place finishes in both 2010 and 2012. Pardon Ndhlovu walked away with the men’s individual title in both 2011 and 2012, while Livia Mahaffie was crowned race champion at the 2012 league championships. He was named PBC Cross Country Coach of the Year for both genders in 2011.
The UNCP cross country programs boast 14 all-PBC selections over the last five years, including three league runner of the year and a pair of PBC Freshman of the Year selections. UNCP has been represented at the either the men’s or women’s national championship meet in four out of the last five seasons, including a team appearance by the women in 2011 – the first team berth for a UNCP squad in school history. Ndhlovu qualified as an individual for the national race for four-straight seasons (2009-12), while Chris Schroll qualified for the national meet in 2011.
After serving as the assistant track and field coach for three seasons, Aycock assumed the role as head coach prior to the 2013 season. He earned conference and region coach of the year accolades after leading the men’s side to a runner-up finish at the inaugural PBC Championships in 2013, while the women finished in the top half of the league in 2014.
In just two seasons under Aycock’s leadership, the track and field programs collected 29 all-conference and 40 all-region awards. Ndhlovu claimed both conference and region field athlete of the year accolades in 2013 after grabbing all-American honors in the 5,000-meter run – the second of two-straight appearances at the national meet for the Zimbabwe native.
“I am so appreciative for what Gary has done leading our program over these last two years,” said UNCP athletic director Dick Christy. “His mentorship and example as an outstanding family man has been a valuable asset to our track and cross country student-athletes throughout his five years at UNCP. As an alum, I know he will continue to stay engaged with our program.
“We are pleased that Coach Barr has agreed to step up in the interim role and I know he will do an outstanding job. We will move expeditiously through the search to identify our next leader for these programs.”