TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In 18 years of track & field coaching, Matt Kane has guided athletes to six NCAA titles, a World Championship and 160 first-team All-American honors between the Division I and NJCAA ranks.
Florida State track & field coach Bob Braman has no doubt that Kane will build on those numbers as the Seminoles’ new assistant, directing the women’s sprints as well and men’s and women’s hurdlers.
Kane replaces Brandon Hon, who moved on to Texas A&M in August, but left behind a treasure trove of talent complemented by a trio of projected instant-impact newcomers.
“We’re just ecstatic that somebody like Matt Kane, with all his national championships and the way he has developed great athletes at two major universities – and also on the pro level – into elite athletes,” Braman said. “He has just incredible credentials and he’s a real scientist when it comes to biomechanics and detail.”
Beginning his first full week on the job, Kane joins the Noles from the pro ranks, where he was coaching Axis Athletics sprinters and hurdlers and serving as an adidas consultant in Austin, Texas since 2015. Prior to that the Oklahoma native spent four seasons (2012-15) as the sprints and hurdles coach at Alabama and two seasons as the men’s sprints and hurdles coach at Oklahoma (2010-11).
“It was two-fold,” Kane said of his decision to return to the collegiate ranks at FSU. “It’s the type of thing where I didn’t know what I was going to miss until I didn’t have it anymore. I missed working with the younger kids; the excitement on their faces and teaching them new things. It’s a bit different than working with a 28-year-old who has been around a little bit.
“The big draw was Bob and Florida State. It’s a great university that sells itself. Bob is pretty well known as being a good boss as well as a good coach, so he was really open to a lot of things that I wanted to get done. It just felt like a really good fit.”
Kane hit the ground running on his first day working with the Noles on Friday, as they completed their first week of offseason conditioning.
Among those under his direction are five-time, first-team All-American sprinter Ka’Tia Seymour and three-time, first-team All-American hurdler Trey Cunningham. Alone, those two have combined for three FSU and ACC records. Sprinters Jayla Kirkland and Karimah Davis, who teamed with Seymour on the Noles’ All-American and ACC record-setting 4×100 relay, push FSU’s count of returning All-Americans to 15 under Kane’s direction.
That returning core group contributed to the FSU men placing sixth at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships, while the women were 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
“It’s probably the most talented group I’ve inherited, as far as walking into a situation with some people who have instant ability to have a national impact,” Kane said. “I think what Brandon did was pretty good. We just want to continue to build on that. The cupboard is pretty full compared to a lot of places I’ve walked into.”
The Noles have also added All-American men’s hurdlers Caleb Parker and Braxton Canady, transfers from Southern Miss and Oregon, respectively. Edidiong Odiong, a 2016 Olympian and 200-meter All-American for Middle Tennessee, will help fill the void created by the graduation of Shauna Helps.
“We have a lot of new, good athletes that we brought in and really demanded that you get somebody of Matt’s level,” Braman said. “We’re very fortunate that he felt it was the right time to get back into college coaching…
“He’s a plug-in talent for the athletes that we have and you can’t always get a plug-in. You might get somebody who you know is good, but the kids don’t know or they’re not quite there yet. Matt’s had World Championship finalists, NCAA champions, multiple All-Americans…The kids know.”
Under Kane’s direction Alabama’s Ramona Burchell won three sprint NCAA – two in the 60-meter dash and one in the 100-meter dash – and set the since-broken NCAA record in the 60 when she ran 7.08 to win the 2014 SEC title. In addition to Burchell’s 2014 60-meter title, Diondre Batson won the men’s indoor 200-meter title the same year.
Kane’s first NCAA champion was Oklahoma’s Ronnie Ash, who won the 60-meter hurdles title in 2010. A year later it was Mookie Salaam who delivered his second NCAA crown, claiming the 200-meter indoor title.
Those efforts at Oklahoma and Alabama did not go unrecognized as Kane was selected by his peers as the 2011 Midwest Region Men’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2013 South Region Men’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year.
Kane cut his coaching teeth in the junior college ranks, beginning with a five year stint (2001-05) as the sprints coach at Butler (Kan.) County Community College, followed by a four year run (2006-09) as the head coach at Barton (Kan.) County Community College, where he guided the program to a sweep of the NJCAA men’s and women’s indoor titles in 2006.
Among his junior college pupils, Ryan Brathwaite became the youngest IAAF World Champion in the 110-meter hurdles in 2009, while representing Barbados. Brathwaite’s Barton teammate, Panama native Alonso Edward, won silver in the 200-meter dash behind Usain Bolt’s world record.
Not surprisingly, Kane earned NJCAA Men’s National Coach of the Year honors in 2009.
The connections Kane has made through his time in the collegiate and professional ranks have further enhanced his reputation as an elite recruiter, both domestically and abroad, where he has deep ties in the Caribbean as well as Europe.
“The state of Florida for Europeans and the Florida State name in general carries weight already,” Kane said. “That sews up a lot of loose ends with a lot of people.”
Kane and his wife Diana have two children, Lucas and Emily.