Monday, November 20

Former track and field coach Jim Bush remembered for great successes


UCLA coaching legend Jim Bush passed away at the age of 90 on Monday. Bush coached more than two dozen Olympians and led the Bruins to victory over USC more than ten times in his career. (Creative commons photo by Trackinfo via Wikimedia Commons)

UCLA coaching legend Jim Bush passed away at the age of 90 on Monday. Bush coached more than two dozen Olympians and led the Bruins to victory over USC more than ten times in his career. (Creative commons photo by Trackinfo via Wikimedia Commons)


UCLA lost one of its most influential and successful coaches last week.

Jim Bush was UCLA’s head track and field coach for nearly two decades, from 1965 to 1984.

On Monday, he passed away at the age of 90. According to the New York Times, his death was caused by metastatic cancer.

When Bush took over as head coach at UCLA, the Bruins had never beaten USC in a dual meet. In his first year they lost again, for the 33rd time in a row.

But during his second year at the helm, the Bruins took their first-ever victory in the meet. They would go on to win the dual meet 12 more times under his guidance.

Bush would end up 13-6 against the Trojans, and his overall dual meet record was 152-21.

Over the last eight years (2010-17) the Bruins have only been victorious in their duel with the Trojans twice.

In his time at UCLA, Bush directed the Bruins to five (1966-71-72-73-78) NCAA Outdoor Championships, on one occasion by 43 points – the largest margin of victory in NCAA history.

His coaching produced 188 total NCAA Championship meet medalists for UCLA.

On average, just over nine of Bush’s athletes would take a medal at the NCAA Championship every year. This year UCLA saw just one of its athletes ascend to a podium, and the year before that not a single Bruin finished high enough for a medal.

He also led the Bruins to seven Pac-8/Pac-10 titles and coached 30 Olympians during his tenure as head coach.

Bush’s specialty was the 400-meter dash. While at UCLA he coached Quincy Watts, John Smith, Wayne Collett, Benny Brown and Tyree Washington, all five of whom were Olympic medalists, world champions or world-record holders.

“I have had more great quarter-milers than anyone in the history of the sport,” Bush told IAAF Magazine in 2004.

Other Olympians include former triple jump world-record holder Willie Banks, Dwight Stones – who broke the world record in the high jump three separate times – and the duo of Andre Phillips and Greg Foster, both of whom were Olympic medal-winning hurdlers.

All four of those athletes still hold positions across various events on UCLA’s all-time top-10 record lists.

“Jim Bush set the standard for track and field during his career, winning five National Championships, as well as being a great mentor to many athletes and coaches, myself included. He will be truly missed, but his legacy will forever remain not only at UCLA but in the entire track and field community,” UCLA throwing coach John Frazier told UCLABruins.com.

Bush was so influential in UCLA’s history that one of the school’s three annual home track and field meets is named the Jim Bush Collegiate Invitational.

He was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1987 and the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.

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Assistant Sports editor

Yekikian is an assistant Sports editor. He was previously a Sports reporter for the women's volleyball and track and field beats.


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