CARBONDALE — Kathleen Raske, the former director of track and field/cross country teams at SIU, thanked her former coaches, administrators and players in a statement to The Southern Illinoisan Friday.
In a leadership change announced Thursday by the Salukis in a press release, Raske is leaving the program to pursue other opportunities.
"As a lifetime Saluki and Hall of Famer, I would like to thank SIU, my student-athletes, my staff, the alumni, and former AD Tommy Bell for the opportunity to come back and serve my alma mater," Raske said. "I am proud of all the accomplishments of all our athletes and the wonderful successes seen both athletically and academically. The past few years have been difficult for me in losing both parents, and I feel it is in my best interest to take some personal time before then pursuing future opportunities.
"I am grateful for the many athletes I’ve had the pleasure to coach and wish them much future success, as well as for a strong future for the entire SIU athletics department."
Raske, a former All-American hurdler at SIU who was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1997, led the Salukis to 98 all-conference honors, 16 All-American finishes, and a pair of top-25 NCAA finishes. DeAnna Price, an Olympic qualifier in the women's hammer throw, won the NCAA title in that event in 2015, shortly after Raske started.
The men's track team placed 14th at the 2017 NCAA indoor championships and the women took 23rd place at the 2016 NCAA outdoor championships.
"We appreciate Coach Raske's service to our institution and wish her all the best in her future endeavors," SIU interim athletic director Jerry Kill said in a statement Thursday.
A 1990 graduate of SIU, Raske was an All-American hurdler and competed in five U.S. national championships, as well as the 1992 Olympic Trials. She was inducted into SIU's Hall of Fame in 1997.
This year, shot putter Jared Kern finished ninth in the country at the NCAA outdoor championships, and two others finished just outside the top 18. Sprinter Warren Hazel finished 17th in the 400-meter dash, and thrower Ricky Hurley finished 20th in the hammer throw.
"I am proud of, and celebrate, all the athletes' accomplishments during my tenure of 2015-18," Raske said.
Kern concluded a strong senior campaign in which he broke both the school and the conference shot put records, won his second Missouri Valley Conference title and claimed the MVC Most Outstanding Male Field Athlete Award.
The women's team tied for second place at the MVC outdoor championships, while the men were fourth. The men finished third at the conference indoor championships, while the women were fourth. SIU also had 17 players on the 2018 MVC Scholar-Athlete Team, 12 women and five men.
Raske returned to her alma mater after 12 years at Sacramento State. Raske won Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year 16 times, produced 15 All-Americans, and was the only woman in NCAA history to coach a men's track team to five Division I conference titles when she was hired at SIU.
Raske wished her successor well.
"I know the Saluki track and field/cross country program will continue to thrive despite the state of Illinois and SIU’s continuing instability," Raske said. "I am and always will be a proud Saluki."