Inside Athletics

Craig McPhail
Craig McPhail
Title: Vice President of Athletics and Club Sports
Phone: (828) 898-2483

Craig McPhail begins his fifth year as Director of Athletics at Lees-McRae College, where he oversees all day-to-day operations of the Lees-McRae athletic department and the 19 sports the college sponsors.

McPhail arrived to Banner Elk in July of 1998 as the Sports Information Director and Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach. He re-started the Track and Field program, became Assistant Athletic Director and has assumed the role of AD.

Keys to his success have been the improved grade point average of the student-athletes, from a 2.9 to a 3.1 via the CATS (Challenging Athletes to Success) program, hiring, developing and mentoring young coaches and fundraising.

The athletic department has undergone noticeable improvements in his short career, receiving a full-time NCAA Director of Compliance and added banners documenting the department’s NCAA success in the gymnasium. Updated upholstery of the weight room’s equipment has been added, complete with signage banners, and window decals.

Major renovations have been undertaken as the gym floor has been refurbished, in addition to updated field maintenance and fencing around the complex. The athletic department has also launched a new website, as well as significant social media upgrades on his watch.

Newly renovated softball facilities, outdoor tennis complex (fencing), women’s soccer, softball and men’s lacrosse locker room improvements and press box have occurred.  A paved parking lot, new buses, apparel deal and community awareness have all elevated the athletic department. The re-introduction of the Hall of Fame and establishment of a Bobcat Club has all been accomplished during his short time at the helm.

In 2011, the Bobcat Athletic Department reached new heights under his leadership as all five fall sports teams made the NCAA Tournament and for the first time in five years, both basketball programs reached the Conference Carolinas tournament.

The Bobcats have played for a NCAA Division II National Championship (men’s soccer 2009) and won several Collegiate Cycling National Championships during his tenure.

Currently, McPhail serves on the Conference Carolinas Championships and Awards Committee and is the Athletic Director liaison for cross country/track and field.

He has represented the College as a member of NACDA, CoSIDA, United States Cross Country/ Track Coaches Association, USA Track and Field, Conference Carolinas chair for both cross country and track and field, and was chair of the NCAA Division II Cross Country/Track and Field committee.

As the men’s and women’s cross country coach for 11 years, his teams showed greatness in and out of the classroom, with 13 conference championships in men’s and women’s cross country and track and field; McPhail also played an essential role in the re-instatement of the track and field program. He has coached 73 all-conference student-athletes, 31 all-region honorees, and has watched them regularly receive Academic All-America honors over the past decade.

McPhail guided 38 Lees-McRae student-athletes to the NCAA Division II National Championships. In doing so, he has been conference coach of the year 11 times, while earning regional coach of the year honors three times.

A member of several organizations, McPhail serves the community well for the local Young Life Organization, the Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Church and the Special Olympics Torch Run. He also is the organizer for the Woolly Worm Road Race, Step Up for Yellow Mountain and the Turkey Trot.

He earned his degree in mass communications (journalism) from Winthrop University, with a minor in interpersonal speech. His master’s degree in sport management is from Georgia Southern University.

McPhail is married to former Jill Clawson; they are parents of son Elijah Boggs McPhail.


Craig and Jill McPhail with son Elijah