The University of Southern Maine Athletic Department announced on September 23, 2019, the appointment of University of Rhode Island men’s assistant track and field coach Rob Whitten as USM’s new women’s track and field and cross country head coach. Whitten will assume his new duties at USM on October 15th. Al Bean, Director of Athletics at USM, made the announcement following a national search.
Whitten becomes just the second head coach in the history of the USM women’s track and field/cross country program, succeeding long-time head coach George Towle who retired. Interim women’s cross country coach Jim Karcanes will continue to run that program through the conclusion of the 2019 fall season.
"I'd like to start by thanking Athletic Director Al Bean and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity,” replied Whitten via email on his selection. “I am extremely grateful to be named just the second head coach in the history of the University of Southern Maine women’s track and field/cross country program. Coach Towle built the program from scratch to a perennial championship contender and I look forward to adding to that legacy.
“I cannot thank John Copeland and the administration at the University of Rhode Island enough for my 11 years there. The lessons I've learned have been invaluable and have prepared me for this next step. I cannot wait to get back to my home state of Maine to meet the team and get started on a great year for the USM women’s track and field program," added Whitten.
Whitten has spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant coach with the URI men’s track and field program. His primary area of focus has been with the jumpers and multi-event athletes. In his time at URI, Whitten has helped develop 49 Atlantic-10 champions, 102 All-New England finishes, 17 New England champions, and 35 All-East/All-IC4A selections.
In 2018, Whitten was chosen by his peers as the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the Northeast Region.
Prior to his time at URI, Whitten spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Hartford where he mentored two America East champions. He also served as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, and was part of the Wildcats 2006 America East Outdoor Track and Field Coaching Staff of the Year.
As an undergraduate at UNH, Whitten was a five-time all-conference and two-time All-New England performer in the pole vault and multi-events. Whitten completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2004, and received his master’s in kinesiology from UNH in 2006.
Originally from Farmington, Maine, Whitten was a New England high school champion in the pole vault and is the former state of Maine indoor and outdoor pole vault record holder. He won three Class A state titles while competing for Mount Blue High School.
“I'm very excited about the addition of Rob Whitten to our staff as head coach of women's cross country and track and field,” commented Bean. “Rob has strong Maine roots, was an outstanding student-athlete at UNH, and has an impressive coaching background at UNH, Hartford and the University of Rhode Island.
“Rob is highly regarded in the coaching world and has the deep respect of his colleagues as well as his current and former student-athletes,” continued Bean. “He’s excited about joining our staff and leading the Huskies and is committed to working very closely with Ryan Harkleroad, our men's coach. I'm confident that Rob will build upon an already strong tradition of women's cross country and track at USM and bring the program to the next level of success.”
Whitten inherits a program that has produced one national champion, 19 All-American performances, won 19 Little East Conference indoor titles, 19 outdoor titles and six cross country championships, 17 New England Alliance indoor championships, 16 outdoor championships and two cross country titles, and three state indoor track and field crowns.