In a somewhat bittersweet piece of news, it was announced today that the head coach of UCLA's men's track and field program, Art Venegas, will not be retained.
One of the nation's premier throws coaches, Venegas led the Bruins to one Pac-10 team championship and two West Region team titles during his decade as the Bruin head coach. In 2009, the Bruins placed fifth at the Pac-10 championships and seventh at the West Regional. They did not score a point at the NCAA championships last month. His contract expired on June 30.
Now, I admire our athletic department's pursuit of excellence. At UCLA, merely being adequate isn't good enough and a move like this makes that clear. On the other side, Venegas is a man who has been with the program for 27 years, the last 10 as head coach. He is also one of the nicest men you will ever meet. He is a truly a great human being, but his job was to compete for national championships and he was no longer doing that. Because of that, I believe the athletic department did the right thing here.
"We appreciate everything Art has done for the program during his 28 years as both an assistant and head coach," said Toth. "But we felt a change in leadership was necessary for the program at this time.
"Art is the preeminent throws coach in the nation. We extended an offer to him to remain on the staff to coach our throwers, but he declined."
Venegas joined the UCLA staff for the 1982 season and served as an assistant coach for 16 years before to becoming head coach prior to the 2000 season. For most of his tenure in Westwood, he coached both the men and women throwers, producing numerous Pac-10 and NCAA champions, as well as Olympians.
While I'd have like Venegas to have stayed on and coach the throwers, I can't blame him in any way for not. At the end of the day though, he just wasn't getting it done and it was time to move on. That doesn't mean I won't hope for the best for Venegas. A man who has devoted so much to the program, the sport and the university, all while being a great man is someone I will be rooting for in the future. We'll miss you Art.