Coach Norbert Elliott retires

Boilermaker coach Norbert Elliott speaking to his athletes at Purdue University.

Boilermaker coach Norbert Elliott speaking to his athletes at Purdue University.


Chief Sports Editor


One of the country’s most prolific collegiate coaching careers came to an end as Norbert Elliott announced his retirement from the Boilermakers Track and Field programme at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Elliott, a graduate of St Augustine’s College where he excelled as a versatile athlete in different sports, but went on to achieve international prominence in track and field as a triple jump specialist and a two-time Olympian, closed out his 35-year coaching career as Purdue’s track & field and cross-country head coach. “First, I want to thank Mike Bobinski for giving me this opportunity,” Elliott said. “Thank you to our sport administrator, Calvin Williams, for his wisdom and guidance, and thank you to the numerous members of our support staff that have been so instrumental in helping our programme.

“Of course, I want to thank and recognise the numerous student-athletes that I’ve had an impact in coaching and guiding. I’ve enjoyed my time working with them, and I want to wish them all good luck in their future endeavours. 

“It has been a privilege and honour to be a part of the Purdue track & field and cross-country programme. I know a bright future is ahead, and I’ll certainly be a Boilermaker for life,” Elliott summed up in his statement. 

Elliott’s coaching career began at his alma mater, UTEP, in 1989, and continued with stops at Georgia, Murray State, Tennessee and Campbell. He spent the last 12 years at Purdue and served as the programme’s head coach since 2018. 

His Boilermaker tenure includes a Big Ten team title in 2017, the best NCAA cross country team finish in nearly 70 years in 2019 and numerous school records, All-America accolades and top-10 individual finishes nationally.

Before he ventured into coaching, Elliott set the pace as a two-time Olympian in 1988 in Los Angeles, California and again in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, where fellow Bahamian and arch-rival Frank Rutherford secured the Bahamas’ first individual track and field medal at the games with his bronze as the two competed in the triple jump. 

Elliott coached 12 Olympians throughout his career, including Boilermaker greats Devynne Charlton, Samson Colebrooke and Carmeisha Cox. 

Mike Bobinski, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, had nothing but high marks for Elliott in his departure. 

“Norbert Elliott has been a great colleague and positively impacted so many student-athletes during his years as both an assistant and head coach here at Purdue,” Bobinski said. 

“The Purdue Athletics family would like to thank Norbert for his unwavering commitment to integrity, student-athlete success, and for the leadership he provided to our track & field and cross-country programmes over his tenure as a Boilermaker. We all wish him the very best in this next chapter.”

Elliott’s influence also includes a number of his athletes that went on to become coaches. Among them are a pair of Olympic champions, 19-time All-American Debbie Ferguson McKenzie, an assistant at Kentucky, and 110-metre hurdle world record-holder Aries Merritt, an assistant at Brown.

At Purdue, Elliott served as an assistant coach under fellow Bahamian Rolando “Lonnie” Greene, who has since moved on to become the head coach at the University of Kentucky. 

Elliott arrived at Purdue in 2012 as an assistant coach and was promoted to associate head coach in 2015. Prior to being named head coach in 2018, Elliott primarily worked with the Boilermakers’ sprinters, hurdlers, horizontal jumpers and relay teams.

In Elliott’s 12 seasons, the Boilermaker women won a Big Ten title outdoors in 2017, just the third in programme history. 

Since 2012-13, Elliott helped the men’s and women’s track & field teams to 11 top-four finishes indoors and outdoors and 19 top-six finishes. 

The men’s cross-country team added five top-five finishes in six seasons with Elliott as head coach.

Elliott’s achievement nationally has pegged him as one of the top coaches in the nation after he got top team finishes with an eighth-place finish outdoors by the women in 2018, the best in team history. 

The women also placed in the top-25 indoors in 2014 (T-19th), 2017 (T-14th) and 2018 (T-14th) and outdoors in 2015 (T-20th) and 2017 (T-21st). In 2016, the men were 13th and 15th indoors and outdoors, respectively, along with two more top-25 showings (T-15th, 2016 outdoors and T-18th, 2013 indoors).

Elliott also helped guide the men’s cross-country team to an 11th-place finish nationally in 2019, its best finish since 1950. 

The Boilermakers won their first NCAA Regional title as Elliott was named the Great Lakes Region Men’s Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA, the first Purdue coach to earn the accolade since at least 1998. 

A third consecutive NCAA berth for the cross-country men followed in the 2020-21 season, a feat not achieved by Purdue since 1946-50.

During his tenure, Elliott got to coach several athletes to Big Ten Athletes of the Year honours, including Devynne Charlton, Jaret Carpenter and Raheem Mostert. 

Charlton, an eight-time All-American and now a world record-holder in the 60-metre hurdles, was named the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year three times (indoors in 2017, outdoors in 2017 and 2018) and the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships four times (indoors in 2016 and 2017, outdoors in 2017 and 2018). Mostert, a four-time Big Ten champion in 2014, was the Big Ten Athlete of the Championship both indoors and outdoors in 2014.

Carpenter was named the 2019 Cross Country Athlete of the Year after he placed 10th overall at the national meet, Purdue’s top individual finish since 1949.

Elliott was also partly responsible for having inked their names in Purdue’s record books with as many as 40 school records, several marks of which broke records that had stood for decades. 

Countless more top-10 marks in school history were achieved in Elliott’s tenure leading the Old Gold and Black.

Prior to Purdue, Elliott was the head track & field and cross-country coach at Campbell in 2011-12, and he was an assistant coach at Tennessee for seven years before that and the head coach at Murray State for two years. 

His coaching career began in 1989 at UTEP, and, after three years, Elliott went to Georgia, where he was an assistant for nine seasons before taking over at Murray State.

Elliott won conference titles at Purdue, Georgia and Tennessee. 

In addition, he was named the 2007 Mideast Assistant Sprints Coach of the Year.

In 2001, Elliott was selected as the head men’s team coach of the Bahamas at the World Championships in Canada. 

His athletes won world championships in the men’s 400m and women’s 200m, silver in the men’s 4x400 and bronze in the women’s 200m.


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