In his fifth season at the helm of The University of Alabama cross country and track and field program, head coach Dan Waters has made an undeniable impact on the Tide. Waters has unified and transformed the program and made it one of the nation’s most improved overall teams.
Since taking over the program in June of 2011, Waters has completely remade the Alabama program. A multi-million dollar facelift of the Sam Bailey Track Stadium dramatically changed the functionality and capabilities of the facility. Those improvements are an outward reflection of the overhaul that has occurred within the team. In four years with Waters as head coach of the Crimson Tide, Alabama has developed into a complete program featuring top student-athletes in all disciplines.
In 2013, the Crimson Tide cross country team produced its highest finish in the women's NCAA South Region Championships since 1987, a third-place finish largely on the efforts of all-Region performers Katelyn Greenleaf and Meropi Panagiotou. That outing was repeated in 2014, as the women took third at both the NCAA South Region and SEC Championships, with Greenleaf once again earning all-Region honors, along with Hannah Waggoner. The Crimson Tide men have continued to progress, posting competitive finishes at the SEC and region meets while building a more experienced and veteran roster.
Waters led the Crimson Tide to its highest NCAA indoor and outdoor track & field team finishes in the past 30 years in 2014. The Alabama men's team posted consecutive top-20 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2013 and 2014, with the women's team posting its highest team finishes in 20 years at the 2014 NCAA indoor and outdoor championships.
Nine members of the men’s team and eight from the women’s squad earned All-America honors by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for their performances during the 2015 outdoor season.
Perhaps the finest honor accomplishment in the Waters era was earned when the men’s track & field squad was named the 2014 Indoor Scholar Team of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
As the highest-placing team with at least a 3.00 cumulative team grade point average at the 2014 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships, Alabama stood out among 116 men’s programs that combined academic and athletic achievement to earn All-Academic Team honors.
The Crimson Tide was the highest-finishing men’s team at the NCAA Indoor Championships to earn All-Academic Team honors that year, finishing sixth place overall with a 3.14 cumulative team GPA. It marked the first time the Crimson Tide men have earned Scholar Team of the Year honors. The Tide men also finished 15th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Tide women produced a breakout year on the track and in the classroom in 2015, posting a 3.48 cumulative team grade point average to earn All-Academic Team status from the USTFCCCA. They were also the only team in the country to finish the year with a grade point average better than a 3.40 while also finishing in the top 20 at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Waters was named the head track & field and cross country coach at Alabama on May 11, 2011, after seven extremely successful seasons as an assistant at Texas A&M. He immediately embarked on hiring an all-star staff of assistant coaches – renowned, well-respected coaches with proven records of developing good athletes into world-class contenders: jumps coach Dick Booth, throws coach Doug Reynolds, sprints/hurdles coach Matt Kane, distance coach Adam Tribble and jumps coach Miguel Pate. During their first season at the Capstone, this core staff of assistants successfully merged the men’s and women’s teams into a single, unified program that helped forge a new team environment and identity for the Crimson Tide. The majority of Waters' staff has remained in place during this program overhaul. The sprinters will be under new direction in 2015, as coaches Dion Miller (short sprints) and Blaine Wiley (long sprints) take over that portion of the squad. Dick Booth has also transitioned to a new role, as he is now the Director of Operations and Special Events for the program.
Changing that long-established culture brought renewed energy and excitement to the program and results followed on the track with three Alabama competitors earning All-America honors during the indoor season, including Krystle Schade finishing as the runner-up in the women’s high jump. In the outdoor season, the Tide sent five student-athletes to the NCAA Championships with four coming home as All-Americans and Alexis Paine setting a school record in the pole vault (13-5 1/4).
In 2013, the track and field season saw marked improvement for the Tide as the men’s team finished 11th in the team standings at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the program’s highest team finish in 11 years. Alabama’s sixth-place finish in the men’s team standings at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships was the best by a Tide team since 2006. First-year Crimson Tide athletes scored 45 of Alabama’s 52 men’s team points at that 2013 SEC Outdoor event. Off the track, Alabama’s 2013 recruiting class was ranked No. 3 nationally by Track & Field News magazine.
Alabama produced nine All-Americans in the 2013 outdoor season, after qualifying 18 athletes for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Sprinter Diondre Batson led the way by finishing fourth in the men’s 100-meter dash and running a leg on the Tide’s second-place 4x100-meter relay unit that shattered the school record. Other standouts included Paine’s fourth-place finish in the women’s pole vault, Imani Brown’s sixth-place in the men’s triple jump and Kamal Fuller taking sixth in the men’s long jump.
While serving as recruiting coordinator and distance coach at Texas A&M under the tutelage of legendary A&M head coach Pat Henry, Waters was a key contributor to a coaching staff that led the Aggies to unprecedented success on the national scene. The Aggies won six NCAA national championships, including back-to-back-to-back men’s and women’s outdoor titles, the first program to accomplish that feat.
The Aggie women won eight consecutive Big 12 titles (four indoor, four outdoor) in a four-year span. One of the nation’s top distance coaches, Waters also served as the recruiting coordinator at A&M and assisted the process of upgrading the program’s talent level to be consistently competitive on the national level. His recruiting and coaching efforts were vital to the men and women each winning three consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – becoming the second school to achieve the NCAA Championship double-double (LSU 1989-90) and the first to have both programs win three in a row.
Recruiting classes coordinated by Waters at A&M earned No. 1 rankings by Track & Field News. The 2009 men’s and women’s recruiting classes were chosen the top recruiting classes in the nation by the monthly magazine, with A&M becoming the second school to earn that acclaim in the 15-year history of Track & Field News ranking collegiate classes. The Aggie women also enjoyed a three-year run as the No. 1 class, from 2007-09, becoming the first women’s program to achieve that distinction.
Known for his strong administrative and organizational skills, Waters directed event management at several championship events at A&M, including the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships, 2009 Big 12 Indoor Championships, and 2003 SEC Cross Country Championships. Waters and former A&M assistant coach Brian Bancroft developed a national reputation for organizing and managing remarkably efficient meets during Waters’ time in College Station, as A&M became a destination for nationally elite programs to compete.
In cross country, Waters earned the South Central Region Men’s Coach of the Year honor in 2008 when A&M won the team title during the regional meet and qualified for the NCAAs. It was the first time in 18 years that a team defeated powerhouse Arkansas for the region title. Waters also has qualified 16 individuals for the NCAA Cross Country Championships over the past 16 years. The regional team title the Aggie men claimed in 2008 was the school’s first since 2003 and only the sixth overall. It also marked the first time that a distance coach on Henry’s staff had qualified a cross country team for the NCAAs.
Waters came to A&M in August, 2004, after serving a three-year stint overseeing the distance program at the University of Georgia and earlier five years at Texas Christian in a similar capacity. During his stay in Athens, Ga., Waters led the Bulldogs men’s team to the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Cross Country Championship, as well as a team victory at the NCAA South Regional Championships. At the conference level, the Georgia men placed second (highest in school history), while the women’s team matched its highest finish with an SEC runner-up effort. On the track, his distance runners broke seven school records.
At TCU, Waters helped the Horned Frogs win four Western Athletic Conference team championships - two in indoor track and field, one in outdoor track and field and one in cross country. The 2000 WAC cross country and indoor track crowns were the first team conference titles in TCU history. During his stay in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs notched four top-four NCAA team finishes and TCU was ranked No. 1 nationally by Trackwire.com in 2001. Athletes at TCU during Waters’ tenure included Khadevis Robinson, who won the 1998 NCAA 800 meter crown. Robinson is a two-time U.S. Champion who competed in the 800 at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games.
Waters began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Texas from 1995-96.
He received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Kansas in 1995. A standout runner for the Jayhawks, he was the 1992 Big Eight champion in the 800 meters and ran a leg on KU’s 1992 All-America indoor 3,200-meter relay. He was elected the Jayhawks’ team captain in 1993 and 1995, and was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American in 1995.
Waters is married to the former Jennifer Miller. The couple have a daughter, Alexis, born in June of 2014.
THE DAN WATERS FILE Personal Information Birthdate: October 25, 1971 Hometown: Prairie Village, Kansas High School: Bishop Miege High School College: University of Kansas - Bachelor's Degree (Secondary Education), 1995
Achievements •2014 Alabama men's track & field team named Indoor Scholar Team of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) •Has coached six NCAA individual champions in four events at Alabama •Has coached 81 All-Americans at Alabama (35 in 2015; 26 in 2014; 14 in 2013; six in 2012) •Has coached nine individual SEC champions (two in 2015; four in 2014; two in 2013; one in 2012) and 29 All-SEC performers at Alabama (16 in 2014; 11 in 2013; two in 2012) •Athletes have re-written the UA all-time top-10 lists in 40 events over the past three years •Alabama athletes have set new school records in 11 events over the past four years •In 2014, Alabama produced top-20 team finishes by both the men's and women's teams at the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor meets for since 1984 •Alabama's men's team finished 11th in the team standings at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the highest UA team finish in 11 years •Alabama's sixth-place finish in the men's team standings at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships was the best by a UA team since 2006 •First-year Crimson Tide athletes scored 45 of Alabama's 52 men's team points at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships •Alabama's 2013 recruiting class was ranked No. 3 nationally by Track & Field News magazine •Has recruited national top-10 recruiting classes in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013 (by Track and Field News) •Member of coaching staffs that have produced 19 NCAA top-10 team finishes •Member of the Texas A&M coaching staff of the 2009 and 2010 men's and women's NCAA national outdoor championship teams •Coached the 2008 Texas A&M men's cross country team that won the NCAA South Central Regional championship, breaking a 19-year winning streak held by the University of Arkansas •Member of the Texas A&M coaching staff of the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 women's indoor and outdoor Big 12 Conference championship teams •Coached the 2003 Georgia men's team to NCAA Cross Country Championship appearance (first in school history) •Coached the 2003 Georgia men's team to an NCAA South Regional Cross Country Championship appearance •Coached the Georgia men's and women's team that was runner-up at the 2003 SEC Cross Country Championship (highest finish ever for the men; equaled the highest finish for the women) •Assistant coach of the 2000 and 2001 WAC indoor men's team champions at TCU (the first conference title in program history) •Coached the 2000 WAC cross country women's team champions at TCU (the first conference title in program history) •Member of the 1996 Texas staff for the team that won the Southwest Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships