The University of Louisiana athletics department announced on Friday the hiring of Russell Whitt as head strength and conditioning coach.

Whitt replaces Rob Phillips who accepted the same position at Tulane in August. His hiring is pending approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

Whitt, who served in the United States Army as a Senior Special Forces Communication Sergeant in the 10th Special Forces Group, comes to Louisiana from Rice University where he was the assistant coordinator of strength and conditioning since March 2009.

At Rice, Whitt designed and implemented year-round strength, speed, mobility, cardiovascular conditioning and injury rehabilitation programs for football, baseball, track and field and swimming.

Prior to joining the staff at Rice, Whitt served in the United States Army from Aug. 2003-Jan. 2009. He was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) V and VI.

Whitt developed and initiated a comprehensive pre-deployment conditioning program for his Special Forces Team prior to and during OIF V and VI. He received a combat infantry badge, two Iraqi campaign medals and an Army commendation medal with valor.

Whitt began his strength and conditioning career with graduate assistantships at Midwestern State University (Aug. 1995-June 1996) and the University of Texas (June 1996-May 1997). He performed an internship in the strength and conditioning department at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (May-Sept. 1997).

Whitt had stints as an assistant strength and conditioning coordinator for football at William and Mary (Dec. 1997-Aug. 1998) and Louisville (Aug.-Dec. 1998) before being named the head strength and conditioning coach at Sam Houston State in Dec. 1998.

At SHSU, Whitt served as an instructor in the kinesiology department and assisted in the design of a new weight facility. He also worked with current Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball coach Bob Marlin until Aug. 2003.

Over his career, Whitt has participated in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, 1998 Motor City Bowl, I-AA football playoffs and NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Whitt earned his bachelor's degree in political science and administration from Abilene Christian University in 1994 and his master's degree in kinesiology from Texas in 1997. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association

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