Now in his seventh season as the head coach of Oregon Track and Field, Robert Johnson has led the Ducks to 13 NCAA team titles, 14 Pac-12 team titles and 50 NCAA individual titles. Johnson is in his 14th season overall with the program having previously served as an associate head coach.
Oregon’s national titles in the Johnson era include three-straight men’s indoor track and field championships (2014-16), two men’s outdoor titles (2014-15), four women’s indoor track and field wins (2013-14, 2016-17), two women’s cross country titles (2012, 2016) and two women’s outdoor track and field championship (2015, 2017).
With 13 NCAA team titles as a head coach, Johnson ranks fourth all-time among NCAA head coaches in cross country and track and field.
The 2018 season was highlighted by a 12th-consecutive Pac-12 team title for the Men of Oregon and two NCAA event titles for the women’s team, the 49th and 50th national titles under Johnson. The Women of Oregon won the DMR at the 2018 NCAA indoor meet and Jessica Hull became the first UO woman to win the 1,500 meters since 1984.
Most recently, Johnson and the Women of Oregon made history at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships with a thrilling win to complete the historic Triple Crown - NCAA titles in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field in the same academic year. Trailing Georgia by 8.2 points with only the 4x400 relay remaining, the Ducks ran a collegiate-record 3:23.13 to win the relay, secure the NCAA championship and become the first women’s team in NCAA D-I history to complete the Triple Crown.
In addition to the dramatic outdoor win, the Ducks pulled out a one-point victory at the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the first jewel of the Triple Crown, and set the stage for the dramatics in Eugene with a record-setting performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships, scoring a meet-record 84 points.
Johnson also led the Men and Women of Oregon to their ninth-straight sweep of the Pac-12 team titles in 2017, guiding both teams to blowout victories at Hayward Field. As a result, Johnson was named the 2017 Pac-12 coach of the year on both the men’s and the women’s side. Throughout the 2017 season, the Women of Oregon broke seven collegiate records (DMR(i), 60m (i), 4x100m, 4x200m, Sprint Medley Relay, 800m, 4x400m), and finished the season with at least a share of six of those records still intact. In the summer of 2017, Johnson helped guide four athletes to berths to the IAAF World Championships at the U.S. Outdoor Championships, including a U.S. title in the 200 meters by Deajah Stevens.
Johnson is one of only two coaches all-time to earn a career women’s triple crown – national titles in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field. The other coach to accomplish that is Texas legend Terry Crawford. With a national title in men’s cross country, Johnson would become the only coach in NCAA history with career triple crowns for both the men and women.
Under Johnson’s guidance, Oregon has been honored as the national Women’s Program of the Year for each of the nine years of the award’s existence, while the men’s program has earned the honor five times, including three straight from 2013-15.
After a tremendously successful run as associate coach, Robert Johnson was elevated to head coach of the Oregon track and field and cross country programs in the summer of 2012. He is in his 14th season overall with the Ducks.
His leadership was evident immediately upon taking the helm of the most storied programs in collegiate track and field. Less than six months after becoming Oregon’s head coach, Johnson’s Women of Oregon set the foundation of success by winning the 2012 cross country national championship for the first time in 25 years. The Ducks followed that performance with their fourth straight women’s national indoor title in 2013. Johnson then oversaw Oregon’s men’s and women’s sweep of the Pac-12 Championships, before guiding both teams to trophy finishes at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In his second year as head coach, Johnson guided the Men and Women of Oregon to a sweep of the NCAA Indoor National Championships. His women became just the second team in meet history to win five consecutive NCAA indoor crowns while the men claimed their first title since 2009. Both teams followed-up with their sixth straight sweep of the Pac-12 Championships. A month later at Hayward Field the men, fueled by four individual champions, claimed their first NCAA outdoor title since 1984 by setting a meet-record 88 points and the largest margin of victory in 20 years.
Year three of the Johnson era saw three national championships as the men defended their indoor and outdoor titles. The outdoor title came by 29 points, the largest margin of victory at the NCAA Championships in 21 years. The Ducks then added the crown jewel of year three when the women collected points across the board to win Oregon’s first outdoor national championship in 30 years. The Ducks also added to their Pac-12 dominance with a sweep of the men’s and women’s track and field championships, while also claiming the 2014 women’s cross country title.
In 2015-16, Johnson led the Ducks to a sweep of the indoor championships as the Men of Oregon claimed their third-straight national title and the Women of Oregon won the indoor crown for the third time in four years. The women added their second cross country national championships in the fall of 2016, as they came out and shocked the nation with a one-point victory over Michigan.
The Ducks have won 47 individual national titles under Johnson. Leading the charge is 17-time champion, and three-time Bowerman Award finalist, Edward Cheserek. Cheserek claimed two titles at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships to run his career total to 17, making him the winningest athlete in NCAA track and field/cross country history. Cheserek finished only two titles shy for the most won by an individual in the history of NCAA athletics. On the women’s side, Johnson served as a key mentor to Raevyn Rogers, who won five straight NCAA 800m titles, including indoors, and provided the memorable kick on the 4x400m relay to win the 2017 NCAA outdoor title and complete the Triple Crown. Johnson has mentored a number of other standout athletes in multiple disciplines, including Olympians Devon Allen, English Gardner, Jenna Prandini, Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington.
Johnson has established himself as one of the top sprint, relays and horizontal jumps coaches in NCAA. He has coached Oregon student-athletes to the American women’s indoor record in the 400 meters (50.46), the U.S. junior women’s record in the 100 meters (11.03), the collegiate record in the indoor 4x400 meter relay (3:27.40) and the women’s DMR (10:38.77), the Pac-12 record in the 100 meters (10.92), a US Championship in the 100 meters as well as 26 Oregon school records. In addition to mentoring five national championship 4x400 meter teams, his athletes have won NCAA titles at 60 meters, 100 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and long jump.
As an assistant and associate head coach from 2005 to 2012, Johnson helped lead a remarkable resurgence of an Oregon women’s program that won three straight NCAA Indoor Titles (2010-2012), claimed four straight Pac-12 Championships (2009-2012), and placed second at the NCAA Outdoor Championships four times (2009-2012). The men’s program won an NCAA Indoor title and was the NCAA Outdoor runner-up in 2009 and won conference championships each year from 2007 to 2012.
Johnson’s charges broke all but one indoor and outdoor school women’s record in the sprints, relays and horizontal jumps. On the men’s side, Mike Berry broke the school’s 41 year-old record in the 400 meters as a freshman in 2011 before going on to win a gold medal at the World Championships as a member of the U.S. 4x400 meter relay squad.
In addition to 5-time NCAA Champion Gardner, Johnson coached Keshia Baker to three consecutive conference titles in the 400 meters (2008-2011), Jamesha Youngblood to a sweep of the long and triple jumps in 2009 and 2010, and Amber Purvis to a 100/200 meter double in 2010 – the first Duck ever to win both sprint titles. In all, Johnson coached 22 conference champions and 70 All-Americans at Oregon before becoming the head coach.
Before arriving at Oregon in 2005, Johnson oversaw UCLA’s highly-regarded high jump, long jump and triple jump units, and also coordinated its strength and conditioning program. In two years with the Bruins, his men and women combined for one NCAA title, one U.S. runner-up finish, two Pac-10 titles, and eight All-America honors. His star pupils included collegiate triple jump record holder Candice Baucham, the 2005 NCAA outdoor champion and U.S. runner-up, as well as 2004 Pac-10 champion and Olympic Trials triple jump qualifier Juaune Armon.
An Appalachian State assistant coach from 1997-2003, Johnson coached 28 individual Southern Conference champions and 14 NCAA qualifiers in the long jump, triple jump, 55 meters and 100 meters. He mentored the school’s first All-America jumper—Ronda White—an outdoor triple jump All-American in 2003, along with two Southern Conference Freshmen of the Year and two Southern Conference Athletes of the Year.
As an athlete, Johnson competed for Appalachian State, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1996, and was a two-time triple jump All-American (1995, ’96), NCAA high jump qualifier (1996) and school high jump record holder (7-1 3/4). A member of the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame, he competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Trials.