Former Bruin Track & Field Athlete Tom Jones Passes Away
March 22, 2007
Former Bruin and head Florida women's track and field coach, Tom Jones, passed away on Wednesday morning in Gainesville, Florida after a lengthy battle with cancer. Jones was 62 years old. Jones is survived by his wife of 30 years, Sandy, his sons, Chris and Sean, daughter-in-law Kate, grand-daughters Sarah and Abby, and Terry Stanley.
Jones was a member of the Bruin track and field team in the mid to late 1960's, winning an individual title in the 220-yard dash in 1966. He also was a member of the NCAA Champion 440-yard relay team, and was part of UCLA's 1966 NCAA Champion team. Jones was also a member of the first Bruin team to beat USC in a dual meet competition.
Jones was also a Pac-10 Champion in the 100 and 220-yard dashes in 1966 and a team captain in 1967. He was honored as the Athlete of the Year in 1966 and Senior Athlete of the Year in 1967 by the Bruin track team.
He served as a graduate assistant coach in 1969 and 1970.
'Tom was not only a great Bruin, but a great ambassador for the sport of track and field,' said head UCLA coach Art Venegas. 'He has had incredible coaching successes and is a true friend to the Bruin family. He will be sorely missed by all of us.'
'I have has over a 100 of my former athletes coach track around the U.S., and Tom has become the greatest coach I ever had as a student,' said former UCLA head coach Jim Bush. He did a tremendous job at Florida. Wherever he coached he had incredible success. I'm so proud of him and I was so shocked when I opened up the newspaper and saw that he had passed. I am very proud of all he accomplished. He is one of America's greatest track coaches and I know that the young ladies at Florida are going to miss him. His death is a huge loss for the sport of track and field.
'I want his family to know how much I loved him as a person,' added Bush. 'His wife, Sandy, is a very special person, and Tom Jones was really a special, special coach and human being. He knew how to touch the lives of young people. I don't think I could me more proud of anyone then I am of the late Tom Jones. My wife, Francoise, and I want to send our love to Sandy and her children.'
One of the most successful teachers of his generation, Jones followed his passion for track for more than 35 years with head coaching stops at Florida (1992-07), Arizona State (1988-92), Texas-El Paso (1984-88) and North Carolina State (1978-84). In his head coaching career, Jones tutored his athletes to the tune of 335 All-America honors and led his teams to 12 conference titles and two national championships, while Jones was honored as the NCAA Coach of the Year three times and was a conference coach of the year on nine occasions, including seven times in the Southeastern Conference.
Under his watch, 23 school records were set at Florida, while Jones guided Maicel Malone to the American record in the 400m that endured for 19 years (51.05) and the 1991 Arizona State 4x400m also broke the American record (3:29.77).
Countless Olympians honed their skills under Jones' guidance as well. At Florida, he coached 2004 Olympians Novlene Williams (Jamaica) and Tiandra Ponteen (St. Kitts) among others. While at Arizona State, he tutored Nigerian Olympian Ime Akpan, Lynda Tolbert (USA) and eventual 1996 U.S. gold medal 4x400m participant Maicel Malone. In his stint at UTEP, Jones oversaw two-time Bahamas Olympian Norbert Elliott, U.S. Olympian Cynthia Henry, the Netherlands Olympian Frans Maas and Canadian Olympian Linda McCurdy. While at North Carolina State Jones saw athletes John Crist (USA) and Augustin Young (Jamaica) participate in the 1984 Olympics.
Services for Jones will be determined on Thursday.