After 18 years as coach of the Texas men’s track and field team, Bubba Thornton said Monday “it’s just time” for him to retire. In the process, the Longhorns also acknowledged it was time for an unprecedented change to their men’s and women’s track programs.
Thornton, 66, said his retirement will be effective Aug. 31. With his departure and the head-coaching vacancy in the women’s program after the resignation of Bev Kearney in early January, Texas said it will combine the men’s and women’s programs under one coaching staff for the first time in school history.
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Coaching highlights at Texas
A former college football and track star who was a rookie teammate of O.J. Simpson’s with the Buffalo Bills, Bubba Thornton led the Texas men’s track and field program for 18 years, from 1996 to 2013. Here’s a look at some of his coaching highlights during that span:
- Nineteen top-10 finishes at the NCAA championships, 10 in the indoor meet and nine outdoor.
- Twenty-six NCAA individual indoor or outdoor champions, plus one relay champion. At the 2013 NCAA outdoor meet, shot-putter Ryan Crouser and decathlete Johannes Hock won titles for Texas.
- A dozen conference titles at UT, split evenly between indoor and outdoor.
- Ten-time honoree as the Big 12 men’s coach of the year.
- Head coach of the U.S. men’s track and field team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The American men won 14 medals, four of them gold, and swept the 400 meters.
- Head coach of the U.S. men’s team at the 2003 world championships in Paris.
— John Maher