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Trojan Olympic Great Quincy Watts Named USC Director Of Track And Field And Cross Country

Jun 17, 2021

LOS ANGELES — USC's two-time Olympic gold medalist and 1992 NCAA 400-meter champion Quincy Watts, an award-winning Trojan men's and women's assistant coach for sprints and long hurdles the past eight seasons, has been named USC's director of track and field and cross country, Trojan athletic director Mike Bohn announced today (June 17).

"Naming Quincy Watts, a Trojan Hall of Famer and Olympic legend, as our new director of track and field and cross country is the best and right decision for us," said Bohn. "His impact on both our men's and women's programs over the past eight years has been significant. Consistent with our vision to be the most student-athlete centered program in the country, engaging our student-athletes is an important part of every coaching search process, and I am so impressed with the overwhelming support Quincy has from our current team. He is also highly respected by our former student-athletes and the national track and field community. We are very excited to have a winner and decorated Trojan leading our program, and we have the utmost confidence that he will sustain and elevate the tradition of excellence the USC shield represents."

Watts, 50, succeeds Caryl Smith Gilbert, who was hired as Georgia's director of track and field on June 13.

"Today is the beginning of a moment I have dreamed about for years," said Watts. "The first person I thought about today was my father. I looked at a lot of schools when I was being recruited in high school, but when I chose USC, my father jumped up and down. He told me that USC was always his favorite school, but he wanted the decision to be solely mine. So, on this day, I thank God for this wonderful opportunity and know that my father is looking down upon me with a smile on his face.

"I would like to thank athletic director Mike Bohn, administrators Lindsay Jaffe and Brandon Sosna and the many others who have made possible this special opportunity to become the director of track and field and cross country at my alma mater. I also would like to thank President Carol Folt for entrusting this program to me. Today would not have been possible if Caryl Smith Gilbert had not hired me as her assistant eight years ago. I was fortunate to learn under her mentorship and I thank her for helping me coach at the highest level. To the alumni who have come out and supported me and the team on this journey, I sincerely thank you.

"To the USC team, this is a great day for us all. I thank you for all the sacrifices and commitments that you have made as student-athletes. I watched you fight every day at practice and am so proud of how you put 'The Shield Out Front' during the NCAA meet last week. I commend our women for winning the national championship and I am ecstatic with our men's Top 5 performance, too. The future is bright for USC Track and Field as we go on our quest for more national championships. We will continue to Fight On and sustain the rich athletic tradition of USC."

Last week, Watts helped the 2021 USC women's squad to the NCAA outdoor team championship and the Trojan men to a fifth place finish. The women also won their third consecutive Pac-12 team title this spring, while the men were second.

He was the 2021 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Outdoor Women's Assistant Coach of the Year as well as the West Region Indoor and Outdoor Women's Assistant Coach of the Year. At the 2021 NCAA Indoor meet, he helped Kaelin Roberts to her second 400-meter title and the women's 4x400-meter relay team to a second place finish, while at last week's NCAA Outdoor meet Anna Cockrell was the 400-meter hurdles champ, the women won the 4x100-meter relay and three women earned All-America honors in the 400 meters (the first time by any school in the event since 2014).

In his eight years (2014-21) as a USC assistant, the Women of Troy had four Top 3 finishes at the NCAA meet, including winning it in 2018 and 2021 and placing second in 2019, and they never finished below second place at the Pac-12 meet. The Trojan men had a quartet of Top 5 NCAA finishes and Pac-12 runner-up finishes.

Watts guided Trojans to 86 indoor and outdoor All-America honors in the 400 meters, 400-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay. His Trojan athletes also claimed 19 NCAA titles and 26 Pac-12 crowns, and they set three collegiate records and 24 school records plus all four USC freshman 400-meter records and the women's 400-meter hurdles freshman record.

Besides Cockrell and Roberts, among the other champion Trojan athletes that Watts has coached are Michael Norman, Rai Benjamin, Ricky Morgan Jr., Cameron Samuel, Kendall Ellis, Kyra Constantine, Bailey Lear, Jade Stepter, Amalie Iuel, Nicole Yeargin and Vanessa Jones.

Watts also was named the 2019 West Region Indoor Women's Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2018 National and West Region Outdoor Men's Assistant Coach of the Year.

Watts spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as an assistant coach at CS Northridge, primarily working with the distance runners and cross country team. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at Harvard-Westlake High in Los Angeles (Calif.), where he helped develop one of the strongest distance programs in the country. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at his prep alma mater, Taft High in Woodland Hills (Calif.).

Watts came to USC from Taft specializing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, then turned into one of the best 400-meter runners in Trojan history. The four-year (1989-92) letterman won the 1992 NCAA 400-meter race in 44.00, a meet record that stood for 25 years. Watts also ran the anchor leg on the 4x400-meter relay team that set a school record of 3:00.58 while placing second at those NCAAs. As a junior, he finished second in the 400 meters at the 1991 NCAA Championships.

Watts, who was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012, also was a wide receiver on the Trojan football team in 1990.

At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Watts twice broke Lee Evans' Olympic record in winning the 400 meters. He ran 43.71 in the semifinal before clocking 43.50 in the final (that still stands as the USC record) to become the first 400-meter athlete to run sub-44.0 in a championship meet. He then teamed with Andrew Valmon, Michael Johnson and Steve Lewis to win the gold in the 4x400-meter relay in a then-world record time of 2:55.74 (he ran the second leg in a blistering 43.10).

He also earned a gold medal in the 4x400-meter relay at the 1993 World Championships (in a still-standing world record time of 2:54.29), and a silver medal in that relay at the 1991 World Championships.

Watts was ranked in the world Top 10 in the 400 meters for four consecutive years (1991-94), including No. 1 in 1992.

A native of Detroit, Mich., he was born on June 19, 1970. He and his wife, Kelly, have three children, daughters Talize and Kylie and son Quincy Jr.

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