When Arizona State hired Greg Kraft to take over its storied track & field program, Michael Jordan was still playing for the Chicago Bulls, Major League Soccer was making its debut, and Tickle Me Elmo was taking the toy world by storm.
Kraft was hired on July 28, 1996, and has run the track and cross country programs at the Tempe school ever since. The only head T&F coach to have a longer tenure was the legendary Senon “Baldy” Castillo, who directed the program for 29 years (1942-1982).
And now Kraft is putting his baby into the hands of his associate head coach to begin what is hoped will be another long love affair with the Sun Devils program that has won four national titles and three conference crowns.
Kraft, who is the university’s associate athletic director for track & field, made it official a little more than a week ago when it was announced that Dion Miller will be taking over Kraft’s position as the director of track & field and cross country to become just the seventh head coach in ASU track & field history.
The transition to a new head coach for the first time in nearly a quarter century is expected to run smoothly since Miller had been working under Kraft as his associate head coach during the 2018 season, working with the sprinters. It’s also the second time around for Miller with the Sun Devil program.
He left the University of Washington, where he was an assistant, in 2004 to join the ASU coaching staff and helped the Devils to back-to-back women’s Pac-12 titles in 2006 and 2007. He was on board when Kraft won his first national championships, the 2007 women’s NCAA Indoor and Outdoor titles.
After leaving ASU to spend time coaching at his alma mater, Texas Tech, and then to Tuscaloosa to head up the Crimson Tide’s sprints group, he returned to Tempe last year. While away, he helped the Red Raiders win the Big 12 outdoor title in 2014 and was on staff at Alabama when that school won the first men’s SEC indoor title in school history during his final season with the Tide. Over the course of his career, he has been voted regional Assistant Coach of the Year eight times.
A coaching veteran of 19 years, Miller is recognized as one of the top sprint coaches in the country. Last season, the ASU sprinters posted their highest point total at a Pac-12 Championship since 2016.
The group of sprinter recruits that he gathered up while on the recruiting trail last year, considered one of the best classes in the country, should help him get off to a good start in his first season running the Sun Devil program.
“ASU will always be a special place for me, and this is where I want to be,” Miller said when his selection was first announced. “This is a nationally-recognized and historically-accomplished program, and I believe we are in the process of getting back to that level.
“I know that we have the coaching staff and the resources to compete for conference and national titles like we did when I was here the first time. And I want to bring that kind of success back to Tempe.”