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In memoriam: Jim Bush, 90, legendary track and field coach

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Jim Bush
UCLA Athletics

Jim Bush

Legendary UCLA track and field coach Jim Bush died July 10 at the age of 90. Bush, who coached at UCLA from 1965 to 1984, elevated the Bruin program to one of the most outstanding in the United States, leading the team to five NCAA championships and seven conference titles.

“Jim was born to coach; he brought out the best in everyone around him, including his student-athletes,” said Dan Guerrero, UCLA’s director of athletics. “He remained a presence on campus, even after his tenure ended, supporting a variety of UCLA teams. He will be greatly missed by so many.”

Prior to Bush’s arrival, UCLA had never beaten the University of Southern California in a dual meet. During his tenure, the team beat USC on 13 occasions. He led the Bruins to five NCAA Outdoor team championships (in 1966, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1978) and seven Pac-8/Pac-10 Conference titles (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1980 and 1982).

In 1971 and 1973, the U.S. Track Coaches Association named Bush coach of the year, making him the first coach in his sport to be honored twice. He coached some of UCLA’s greatest men’s track and field athletes, including Wayne Collette, John Smith, Willie Banks, Greg Foster, Dwight Stones, Andre Phillips and John Brenner, and he guided 30 members of the U.S. Olympic team.

Following his retirement in 1984, Bush became a speed and strength consultant for the Los Angeles Raiders, Dodgers, Lakers and Clippers, before returning to coaching track and field at USC from 1991 until his retirement in 1994. Bush was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1987.

He is survived by his wife, Francoise; two children, Don Bush and Jean Richmond; two stepsons, Gary Ruggieri and Patrick Ruggieri; and 21 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Read the full UCLA Athletics obituary.

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