Eastern New Mexico University track and cross country coach Mike Harney is returning to his native Florida.
Harney has accepted a high school economics teaching position in his hometown of Fort Myers, Fla., and is hoping to land a parttime coaching position at his alma mater, nearby Division I Florida Gulf Coast.
Harney informed ENMU athletic director Jeff Geiser of his decision on Friday. Geiser said the school hopes to have interim men’s and women’s head coaches in place for cross country by the end of next week — practice begins Aug. 20 — and then open the combined position to a national search to be filled in time for track in the spring.
“It’s bittersweet,” Geiser said. “It’s Division I. The timing isn’t good for us, but we wish coach Harney the best.”
Harney, who was an assistant under Eric Boll for three years before taking the head coaching positions, led the Greyhounds to Lone Star Conference and Southwest Region men's cross country championships last fall. He said he was trying to build a strong program, and was disappointed he couldn’t finish the job.
“I think I’ll be closer to family, to that support system, and I have a chance to coach at the Division I level,” said Harney, 27, a 2008 FGCU graduate. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity afforded me at Eastern.
“The biggest thing I’m going to miss is the student-athletes and the bond we had over the last (four) years.”
Harney, a 2008 FGCU graduate, held school records there in the 8K and 10K runs, but he said both were broken last fall.
His wife, Jocelyn, is from Miami, and they have a 10-month-old son, Mason.
ENMU’s assistant coach last year, Jessica Becker, left in July to take an academic position at her alma mater, Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan.