Nov. 6, 2001
John Smith, who for the last 17 years has been an assistant coach for the UCLA men's track and field team and who is also one of the top sprinters in Bruin history, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of the month.
Smith, whose specialty is coaching the sprints, relays and hurdles under Bruin men's track & field head coach Art Venegas, for the last few years has been coaching both UCLA student-athletes and post-collegiate world-class elite athletes at the professional level. According to Smith, he has decided to devote all of his coaching efforts to his elite professional athletes.
" I have come to a crossroads in my coaching career and this is the decision that I have to make," said Smith. "It's not an easy one. UCLA has been my life, both as an athlete and a coach. But over the last few years, my professional athletes have taken up more and more of my time and I want to continue to move ahead into that coaching challenge."
During his tenure as a Bruin assistant, Smith has coached some of the school's top men's sprinters and hurdlers, helping the Bruins win the 1987 and '88 NCAA Outdoor team titles and nine Pac-10 crowns. He has tutored six Bruin individual NCAA Outdoor champions, including Ato Bolden (1995, 200m, 20.24, 1996 100m, 9.92 meet record, school record-holder in 100m, 9.90 and 200m, 19.80) and Kevin Young (world, 46.78 and school, 47.72 record-holder in the 400m hurdles, who won the event for UCLA in 1987, 48.90 and '88, 47.85, meet record). Smith has coached three Bruin 4 X 400m relays to NCAA Outdoor crowns, including the 1988 quartet that set the collegiate record (2:59.91, Steve Lewis, Young, Danny Everett, Henry Thomas).
Smith, who prepped at Fremont HS, won six NCAA Outdoor titles as a UCLA sprinter from 1969-72, under Jim Bush. He ran on four consecutive collegiate championship mile relays and in 1971 (440y) and 1972 (400m), Smith won individual NCAA Outdoor titles, helping lead the Bruins to the team crown. He still holds the world record in the 440y dash (44.5).
"I have worked with John Smith during his entire Bruin tenure, both as a fellow assistant and now as head coach," said Venegas, in his 21st year on the Bruin staff and third as the UCLA men's head track and field coach. " His coaching influence will forever be etched into the history of UCLA men's track and field. We are disappointed John is leaving, but at the same time, excited for him and his new coaching endeavors. He is a loyal friend who will forever be a member of the Bruin family."