A two-time Illinois State Athlete of the Year (1998 and 1999), former Redbird Chris Bailey returned to his alma mater after being named an assistant coach in August, 2002. Three months later, Bailey was named the Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year after guiding the men's team to a Valley title.
During the 2004 track season, Bailey coached nine all-conference runners, including four conference champions and the conference champion men's distance medley team. The women' s DMR squad also took home all-conference honors. Also in 2004, two middle distance runners qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional.
A native of Westmont, Ill., Bailey spent the 2001-02 season as an assistant at Northern Illinois before becoming the primary coach for ISU's cross country teams and distance runners. While at NIU, Bailey's coaching efforts were geared toward the same events. In 2003, under Bailey's direction, the women's cross country team placed 10th at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
During his collegiate running days, Bailey was named the 1998 Athlete of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference after capturing 10 different Valley conference titles in a four-year span. He capped off a stellar career in 1999, being named an all-American in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Track and Field meet, the last race of his career, while also qualifying for nationals in cross country. He was named the athlete of the year at the Region V championships as a senior and became the first runner at ISU to win the NCAA Region V individual championship and individual MVC Cross Country championship twice.