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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Internal faces take over program

Bert Rogers was promoted to the director of the track and field and cross country programs Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette Athletics announced Jan. 14 that previous track and field head coach Bert Rogers would be promoted to director of both the track and field and cross country teams. Interim head coach Sean Birren was also promoted to permanent cross country head coach.

Long-time cross country head coach and track and field assistant Mike Nelson departed three weeks before the season started, prompting these promotions.

This left the program with a vacancy and prompted a search for an interim for the season and for permanent options after the season ended. Athletic director Bill Scholl hired Sean Birren, who had previously been a volunteer with the program, making him a familiar face to the returning athletes.

Scholl gave Birren the role of interim head coach on the same day his wife gave birth to their daughter, providing a very busy start to the new season for both the team and its new leader.

Birren’s familiarity with the athletes ultimately played a big role as they didn’t have to search for a permanent head coach outside the program. Rogers added that promoting Birren rather than finding a new coach on the outside provided a “comfort factor” and that there will be less uncertainty going into the season.

“Birren’s been around, he knows the system, knows the kids,” Rogers said. “He made it a nice smooth transition.”

Rogers said the team had a lot of positive feedback about Birren.

“He is very intelligent and well versed in the science behind the sport,” Marquette senior cross country runner Brad Eagan said. “He helped this be the smoothest transition it could be, given the situation.”

Rogers said that his job will not be affected a whole lot by his new role even though he will not have the head coach tag for the first time in the last 13 years.

“The title change is a bit of a formality,” Rogers said. “I don’t feel like it’s changed my day-to-day life so much.”

Rogers said that when Mike Nelson was the cross country head coach and then an assistant on track and field, it would be close to an “equal position” in terms of working together to coach the track and field team. He said he welcomes Birren wholeheartedly as head coach, but his own role will not be changing much.

“Birren and I have a great relationship,” Rogers said. “We did back when he was a volunteer. I’m very pleased it worked out the way it did for us.”

Rogers will now oversee both the cross country and track and field programs.

Reflecting on this promotion and his time at Marquette, Rogers said he is thankful for the extra vote of confidence from the administration that he feels the promotion has given him.

“Marquette is a wonderful place. I’m really proud and honored to have been promoted like this,” Rogers said. “This is a place that I love, and I want to continue to do my best for this program and this university.”


This article was written by Matt Yeazel. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @MJYeazel. 

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