PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania's longtime head coach of men's track & field, Charlie Powell, has announced his retirement, effective immediately.
"For almost three full decades I have had the honor and pleasure of being around some of the most outstanding young men imaginable while here at Penn," said Powell, who was in his 25th season as the program's head coach and his 30th with the program overall. "I have tried, in some small way, to assist every one of them on their road to outstanding achievement and great accomplishments in life. I must admit, I loved every minute of my 29 years here, and I will always call Penn and this program my own and my home.
"The pride, the camaraderie, the competitive fire, the work ethic, and the efforts put out on a daily basis by the men in this program have always left me in awe," he continued. "It has always meant something special to be part of Penn Track & Field, and I only hope that I did my part during my time at the helm to keep the traditions alive and well. However, at this point in time, I must step away from coaching and reduce the stress in my life for health reasons. I would like to be around to see as many Heptagonal Championships and Penn Relays as I can while watching my children grow up, and I know that those of you who know me and my priorities will understand. Thank you all. It has been a great journey."
"This is a melancholy day for Penn Athletics," said Penn's Director of Athletics, Steve Bilsky. "Charlie is a trusted and respected coach by his peers within the department, around the league, and across the country. He is also a beloved figure by his athletes present and past. Charlie was one of the people I reached out to in my early days as Athletics Director here to help me navigate the department, and I have an enormous respect for him as a person and a coach. He had some large shoes to fill when he took over in 1987, and now he leaves big shoes to fill in his retirement. That said, his health is the most important thing and we understand why he is retiring at this time. We wish him all the best going forward, and look forward to his presence at Penn Relays and other track events over the next several years."
Robin Martin, who has been Powell's assistant for the last year and a half, will take over as head coach on an interim basis. A full search for Powell's successor will begin in the spring.
Powell leaves quite a legacy at Penn. Under his tutelage, Penn men's track & field has had at least one Heptagonal Games champion each year since 1989, and six student-athletes still hold individual Heptagonal records. The Quakers won five Heps team titles during his tenure at Penn-in 1995 (outdoor), 1997 (indoor/outdoor), 2001 (outdoor) and 2002 (outdoor)-and finished second at the IC4As in 1998. In 2001-02, Powell was selected as the Mondo Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year by his peers of the United States Track Coaches Association.
Two of Powell's athletes, Sam Burley and Brian Chaput, won NCAA individual championships in 2003, with Burley taking home the title in the 800 meters and Chaput winning gold in the javelin. Fourteen Quakers earned All-America honors under Powell's watch, and he had 44 individual NCAA Championships qualifiers.
At the conference level, Powell has had more than 100 individual champions at the Heptagonal Championships, and his teams have set 12 conference records. More than 100 of his athletes have also earned All-East distinction at the IC4A Championships over the years. Powell's athletes set 14 of the University's indoor school records and 12 outdoor marks.
Powell had two NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients among his athletes as well as two Thouron Scholars, and five of his athletes have received the University's prestigious Class of 1915 Award which is given to the top senior male student-athlete.
Most recently, Maalik Reynolds claimed outdoor All-America honors in the high jump last spring as a freshman. He also set school records in the indoor and outdoor high jump en route to claiming the indoor and outdoor Heptagonal titles, the indoor IC4A title, and the Junior Pan Am title. Not to be outdone, Penn's 4x800 relay team also won the outdoor Heptagonal and IC4A championships.
In addition to coaching the Penn teams, Powell has been the director of Penn Relays Distance Night, the coordinator of track events, and a member of the Penn Relays Planning Committee since 1984. He also serves as a member of the Penn Relays High School and College Championship Committees. Powell is a former President of the Heptagonal Coaches Association and IC4A Track and Field Committee member. At the national level, Powell was chair of the TFA/USA Olympic Development 800-meter group from 2000-10, and an Olympic Development Committee member for the 800 to 1,500 events from 1998-2010.