Jim Bush Will Coach USC Track and Field

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jim Bush, former UCLA coach, was named head men's and women's track and field coach at USC Monday.

Bush led UCLA to five NCAA championships in 20 years before resigning in 1984 because of health problems. He underwent neck surgery shortly before retiring.

After regaining his health, Bush served as a volunteer assistant at USC, coaching the hurdlers for the last two seasons.

Robert Reading, who won the 1989 NCAA high hurdles title, said he thinks that Bush will succeed at USC.

"He's really easy to work with," Reading said. "He knows a lot and he can communicate that to the athlete."

A member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, Bush led UCLA to seven national dual-meet championships as conferred by Track and Field News and seven conference titles, compiling a dual-meet record of 152-21. He coached 32 NCAA outdoor champions and 19 Olympians while at UCLA.

When Bush came to Westwood in 1965, the Bruins had never beaten USC in 32 meets. But Bush led UCLA to a 13-6 record against the Trojans.

Will it be difficult for him to coach against UCLA?

"I can't wait," Bush said. "I don't find that difficult at all. The last few years, I've been helping over here, and people said, 'How can you do that Coach, you're a Bruin?' And I said 'No, I'm a Trojan now.' To me it's a great rivalry."

But it has been a one-sided rivalry since 1978, with UCLA winning 12 consecutive meets.

Although USC has won 26 NCAA track and field championships, more than any other school, Trojan officials have claimed that they struggled, in part, because of NCAA-imposed scholarship limitations.

Given the 14-scholarship limitation, will it be difficult for Bush to rebuild USC's program?

"I call it a challenge," he said. "True, we can't get a lot of walk-on athletes, but it only takes about five to seven great athletes to win the national title if you get them in the right events.

"We're going to bring USC back. I don't care how many scholarships you have, it doesn't make a difference to me. If we have 14 scholarships, that means everyone else has 14 scholarships. We're going to win."

USC Athletic Director Mike McGee agreed, saying: "I think clearly Jim Bush has the proven ability to lead a team into the elite track programs in this country."

At UCLA, Bush had Drake Stadium, one of the nation's finest track facilities. Although Cromwell Field at USC has a new track, its seating capacity is limited.

However, Bush appeared undaunted.

"One of the greatest teams I ever had practiced on a dirt track, and we had to bus them three times a week to different places to work out and we still won the national title," he said. "You can do anything if you put your mind to it. You can work around whatever you have. If we can improve the facilities, great. But if we can't, you can't harp on things like that.

"I think people forget that when USC was winning all those titles, they had one of the worst dirt tracks I've ever seen. It doesn't make any difference."

Bush, 63, is the first person to coach both the men's and women's track teams at USC. He succeeds Ernie Bullard, who coached the men's track team for the last six years, and Mike Bailey, who coached the women for the last two years. Bullard was reassigned to another position in the athletic department.

Track and Field Notes

Mike Bailey and Don Quarrie, a former Olympic gold medalist in the 200 meters, were retained as assistant coaches. Coach Jim Bush said he hopes to add a female assistant and a distance coach to his staff. . . . Others considered for the job were Ron Allice, Long Beach City College coach; Rick Sloan, a Washington State assistant, and John Webb of Florida.

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