Former World Champion and five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat has been named head coach of the University of Arizona’s cross country team.

In November of 2020, Lagat was named one of three interim coaches for the cross country program this past season after head coach James Li retired.

The 46-year-old Kenyan-American Lagat also served as an interim track & field coach in 2021.

“It is an incredible honor to have one of the world’s all-time great runners lead our storied distance program here at Arizona,” Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Fred Harvey said.

“Bernard is a true legend in the world of distance running and his knowledge and personality will draw the best runners in the world to the University of Arizona. Historically, we have one of the best distance programs in America, and I believe Bernard will take us to that level.”

“We are thrilled to announce that Bernard will continue coaching our cross country program and take on an expanded role with our track and field program,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke.

“Bernard’s leadership in his first year as a member of our coaching staff was instrumental in our student-athletes’ success in competition, the classroom, and the community. As a decorated former student-athlete, Bernard has done an excellent job of guiding our student-athletes as part of our Wildcat Way experience. He will continue to lead our student-athletes to success while also supporting head coach Fred Harvey and Arizona Track & Field.”

This past season the Arizona Wildcats cross country had mixed results with improvement on the women’s side finishing fifth in conference on the women’s side while the men’s side was a disappointing eighth at this season’s Pac-12 conference championship.