Jim Bush, a legendary track and field coach at UCLA and master at developing world-class 400-meter runners, died Monday, the school announced. He was 90.
From 1965 to 1984, Bush guided UCLA to five NCAA championships. In the late 1960s, quartermilers Wayne Collett and John Smith became world-class runners at UCLA. Smith later set a world record in the 440. Collett won a silver medal at the 1972 Olympic Games.
Prior to Bush’s arrival, UCLA had never beaten USC in a dual meet. UCLA won 13 times over the Trojans and won NCAA outdoor titles in 1966, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1978. In 1992, as an assistant coach at USC, Bush helped coach Quincy Watts to the Olympic Games gold medal in the 400 in Barcelona, Spain.
“He was unique,” said Hal Harkness, UCLA’s former cross-country coach who spent six years as an assistant to Bush. “His body of work turning out world-class quartermilers and 4 by 400 relay teams is unmatched. Through evolution, he came up with a training system that started in October and finished in June. He did it for years and years.”
Harkness said Bush’s health deteriorated after a bout with prostate cancer.
Bush 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.