Johnson Named Next UA Women’s Cross Country, Track Coach

He will succeed current head coach Lance Harter who will retire in June 2023.

UA women's track assistant coach Chris Johnson talking to his athletes
Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas Athletics Department.

Associate head coach Chris Johnson is in his 11th season with the women’s cross country and track and field program at the University of Arkansas. Two years from now, he’ll take over as head coach when Lance Harter retires. 

“It’s exciting for me and one of those things you dream about when you take a job like this, the possibility of being able to take over a historic program like the Razorbacks,” Johnson said in a statement. “Coach Harter has done a fantastic job and has set the bar very high.”

A member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Harter has won six NCAA Championships and 42 conference titles — including a national Triple Crown in 2019 and seven SEC Triple Crowns — over the course of 32 seasons.  

“The record is something I’m very proud of,” Harter said. “I share it with every athlete that contributed, and especially to every staff member that we’ve had. Our legacy has very few parallels in the NCAA.”  

Harter formally announced yesterday he will retire following the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June 2023. Johnson will assume his new position on July 1, 2023. 

“I’m super excited about the opportunity to have Chris Johnson take the reins as the head coach when I step down from that role,” Harter said. “He will keep the philosophy and the winning formula that we have established in years past.”

Johnson has earned several accolades as an assistant coach. He’s been named NCAA Women’s Assistant Coach of the year three times and earned a dozen Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors — six while at Penn State and six with the Razorbacks. He’s also been honored as the 2021 NCAA Women’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year. Being able to continue coaching at the U of A means a lot to Johnson.

“Obviously, it’s the best, if not one of the best, programs in the country as it pertains to track and field. So, to be able to be a head coach at the University of Arkansas is the pinnacle,” he said. “To be entrusted with the program and continue to move the program forward, I couldn’t dream of anything better.”