NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt’s new director of cross country and track and field Althea Thomas announced Michael Porter as the first official hire of her coaching staff on Monday. Porter will work primarily with the distance student-athletes.
“This is a great opportunity at a great school,” Porter said. “I’ve known A.T. (Coach Thomas) for eight years and the chance to work for her made it a no-brainer for me. Vanderbilt’s combination of academics and athletics is second to none in the SEC, and the cross country programs have had success—the women finished sixth at NCAAs in 2011—and it shows the potential of the program. Getting back to that level on a consistent basis is the main goal and I’m excited to get us moving in the right direction.”
“Mike has a huge passion for coaching and I’m excited for him to join the staff,” Thomas said. “At Clemson, he grew a great reputation in a conference that is known for distance. He’s intelligent, motivated, and has had proven success in training and developing student-athletes in various events. He also understands the opportunity and value of a Vanderbilt degree for those who want an elite athletic and academic experience.”
Porter comes to Nashville after a brief stop at the University of Kentucky, where he served as a volunteer assistant coach.
Prior to his stop in Lexington, Porter was an assistant coach at Clemson University from 2014-19, the Tigers totaled two ACC team titles, while Porter tutored six All-Americans, 11 NCAA qualifiers, 12 Top-3 ACC Finishers and 27 student-athletes among the school’s all-time Top 10 lists.
Porter mentored Grace Barnett, a six-time All-American including a 9th-place finish at the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships, and Logan Morris, a three-time All-ACC recipient who represented the United States at the 2017 World Junior Cross Country Championship.
Prior to Clemson, Porter was a volunteer assistant coach at LSU, and also served as head coach at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Virginia, from 2008-12.