Keith Roberts, a former star athlete at Bellefontaine High School, has made another move in his college coaching career.
Roberts on Monday was named the new director of track and field and cross country at Marshall University.
“The people we bring to Marshall have to understand this region, they must be inspired by a bigger vision and they must know the ways in which they will contribute and the ways in which they will lead,” said Marshall University director of athletics Christian Spears in a press release. “Coach Roberts is that person. He is committed to building a championship program that will compete immediately in the Sun Belt. He is student-centered and his student-athletes will have a remarkable experience while here. He will embrace this community and region and so will his family.”
Roberts, who won a pair of state titles in the 110-meter hurdles at Bellefontaine and went on to play football and run track at Kent State, moves to Marshall after serving in the same capacity at Eastern Illinois over the past two years.
“I’d like to thank President Brad Smith, Athletic Director Christian Spears and Senior Associate Athletic Director Beatrice Crane Banford for this opportunity,” Roberts said. “Marshall is a great university with an amazing history and rich tradition. I look forward to getting to work and building a championship program.”
In the 2022-23 season, Roberts led Eastern Illinois to three Ohio Valley Conference championships in women’s cross country, men’s cross country and men’s indoor track.
Roberts was named the 2023 OVC indoor men’s track coach of the year and, during his two seasons, Roberts had seven EIU student-athletes compete at the NCAA Championships West Preliminaries.
In addition to the success in competition at Eastern Illinois, Roberts’ teams were also successful in the classroom. The women’s track team boasted of a 3.57 Team GPA and the men’s track team earned a 3.19 Team GPA.
“If we are going to be the overall best athletic program in the Sun Belt – which is always the goal for us – we must be great at track and field and cross country,” Spears said. “Those six sports, those student-athletes, Coach Roberts and his staff will make all the difference as we look to reach our full potential as an athletic department.”
Prior to taking over the Eastern Illinois program, Roberts served as the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach for the University of Pittsburgh with an emphasis on sprints, hurdles and relays where he mentored several national contenders and school record-holders.
That experience included leading Pitt’s men’s track team to its highest-ever team finishes in the ACC Championships when the team finished fourth in the 2021 ACC Indoor Championships and fourth in the 2019 ACC Outdoor Championships.
Among those he mentored were 2017 All-American and ACC Champion Desmond Palmer and 2018 ACC champion Desiree Garland. More recently, he coached Shyheim Wright to the No. 2 time in Pitt history in the 60-meter hurdles – a time that ranked him seventh in the NCAA.
Before his time as an assistant at Pitt, Roberts helped lead Grand Valley State to several NCAA Division II Championships in both the team and individual settings.
The highlights of his stint at Grand Valley State included leading the women’s indoor and outdoor teams to consecutive NCAA Championships in 2011 and 2012.
On the men’s side, Roberts also coached Sean Wells to NCAA Championship titles in the 60-meter hurdles and 110-meter hurdles. Roberts coached 37 GVSU student-athletes to All-American honors while 20 student-athletes set school records.
Roberts earned his B.A. in interpersonal communications at Kent State University. He and his wife, Tessa, have two children, Kaia Grace and Keith Anthony III.