CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -
Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage announced today Jason Vigilante (VIG-ah-Lan-tee) has been named the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country for the Cavaliers. Vigilante comes to Virginia after serving as the associate head men’s track and field and head men’s cross country coach at the University of Texas.
Vigilante originally joined the Longhorn staff in 1999 as a volunteer coach for women’s cross country. In 2000 he became an assistant coach for the men’s track and field and men’s cross country programs. In August of 2005, he was promoted to the position as Texas’ head men’s cross country coach.
“Coach Vigilante has the background and experience needed to provide leadership for the future success of our track and field and cross country programs,” Littlepage said. “Often teams take on the personality of their coaches; if that is the case, our teams will show a high energy level and great enthusiasm which will translate into success in and out of the classroom.”
“We were extremely pleased with the high quality of interest we received from very accomplished coaches during our national search process,” said Valerie Richardson, associate athletic director. “Ultimately, we determined that Jason would be the best fit to lead our track and cross country programs to new heights, and we are thrilled that he will join us at the University of Virginia.”
Vigilante has built a strong reputation for his work with Texas’ middle distance and distance runners, while at the same time establishing the Longhorns’ men’s cross country program as one of the best in the nation.
At Texas, Vigilante helped produce six NCAA individual champions, 37 All-Americans, 17 Big 12 Conference champions, three Big 12 Conference relay champions, six Penn Relays Championship of America champions and one Olympian. The men’s cross country teams made seven appearances at the NCAA Championships during his tenure.
His squads have also been recognized for their success in the classroom, garnering numerous Academic All-America honors, while individual student-athletes have been tabbed Academic All-Americans and Academic All-Big 12 selections.
“Having the opportunity to become the director of the track and field and cross country programs at Virginia accomplishes a lifelong dream of mine to become a head coach,” Vigilante said. “As an added bonus, having the opportunity to move to the east coast is an ideal situation for my family. I’m so grateful for my time at Texas. All of the people I have been able to work with have been wonderful; DeLoss Dodds, Butch Worley, Bubba Thornton, all of the sudent-athletes and everyone who has treated me so well over the past nine years. I am thankful, optimistic and excited about what my experiences will bring in the upcoming years as a Virginia Cavalier.“
Vigilante was named the 2008 National Assistant Indoor Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) after helping the Longhorns to a third-place team finish at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Vigilante mentored the middle and long distance groups at Texas, with his event entrants contributing 28 of 34 points in UT’s program-best finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
He was named the 2005 National Assistant Outdoor Coach of the Year and Midwest Regional Coach of the Year for distance by the USTFCCCA. That year Texas’ men’s program was one of only four teams (men’s or women’s) to finish in the top-12 nationally in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.
During his eight years working with the Texas men’s cross country team, the Longhorns qualified for the NCAA Championships seven times, while finishing in the top-25 on six occasions. During that period five Longhorn runners earned All-America honors.
Over the last four years, Vigilante has been instrumental in developing one of the nation’s top distance performers in Leonel Manzano, who will compete in the 1,500 meters at the 2008 Olympics.
Manzano became the first student-athlete in Big 12 history to win the mile run in four consecutive seasons. At the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships, he became the first Longhorn in program history to win two NCAA titles at the same meet, running the anchor leg of the distance medley relay and defending his title in the mile run. Manzano was the 2008 National Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
Last year Vigilante mentored the Longhorns’ distance medley relay to a world-record setting performance at the Tyson Invitational (Feb. 16), saw his distance runners turn in sub four-minute mile performances and mentored an automatic qualifier in the 800 meters to the national meet. Manzano and Jake Morse finished first and second, respectively, at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the mile, while Manzano won the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Jacob Hernandez took first in the 800 meters at the outdoor championships and at the 2008 Olympic Trials, Morse finished fourth in the steeplechase, while Manzano took runner-up honors in the 1,500 meters to earn a spot on Team USA.
A native of Morristown, N.J., Vigilante is no stranger to the Atlantic Coast Conference. He graduated from NC State with a degree in psychology in 1996. He lettered three times with the Wolfpack and earned All-ACC cross country honors following his senior season.
He was an assistant coach at UNC Wilmington in 1997 when the Seahawks won their first Colonial Athletics Association outdoor conference title in school history.
He then served as a graduate assistant for two seasons (1997-99) at NC State. The Wolfpack men recorded back-to-back NCAA top-10 cross country finishes, collected two ACC Championships and produced three All-Americans during that time. The NC State women also won back-to-back ACC cross country titles.