In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, Dick Booth established himself as one of the world’s most successful jumps coaches. Holding a resumé that includes the tutelage of 49 NCAA individual champions and 150 All-America performers, Booth’s record speaks for itself.
Currently an assistant coach at the University of Alabama, he boasts a timeline that includes 27 years of service at the University of Arkansas where he helped the Razorbacks become the NCAA’s winningest men’s program. Before joining Alabama, Booth had two successful years at Florida where his pupils helped the Gators to two NCAA indoor team titles.
Booth started his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Arkansas in 1978 and was there for six years before venturing to Louisiana-Lafayette for his lone head-coaching position in 1985.
During his four-year tenure at ULL, he guided high jumper Hollis Conway to two NCAA titles and spectacular heights that included the current indoor and outdoor collegiate records of over 7-9. Conway went on to win a silver medal in the high jump at the 1988 Olympics and a bronze medal in 1992, becoming one of two Americans to medal twice in the event.
Booth then returned to Arkansas where he would stay for another 21 years. During his second stint at Arkansas, the Razorbacks captured 14 NCAA indoor track & field titles, adding a string of eight consecutive outdoor championships between 1992 and 1999 and another championship streak from 2003 to 2006.
Booth coached 11 Olympians, 45 individual national champions, and 137 athletes who gained All-America honors while at Arkansas. His list of former athletes includes icons such as Mike Conley, Erick Walder, Robert Howard, Edrick Floreal, Brian Wellman, Jerome Romain, Ray Doakes, Matt Hemingway, Melvin Lister and Kenny Evans.
A two-time Olympic medalist, Conley won the gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympic Games with the third-longest, wind-aided jump in history.
While at Florida in 2011, Booth guided Christian Taylor and Will Claye to first- and second-place triple jump finishes at both the NCAA Championships and U.S. Championships. The NCAA title was Taylor’s second-straight outdoor championship and third overall under Booth. Claye was also named the USTFCCCA’s National Field Athlete of the Year during the outdoor season as he added a runner-up showing in the long jump at the NCAA outdoor meet.
A native of Blue Mound, Kan., Booth competed collegiately as a quartermiler at Ottawa University. He began his coaching career in the Kansas high school ranks with positions at Wellington, Fort Scott, and Shawnee Mission South High Schools. He gained a reputation as one of the premier prep field events coaches in the country while working with four state record holders in seven seasons at Shawnee Mission South.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Ottawa in 1966 and a master’s degree in physical education from Kansas State in 1970.
Booth and his wife, Merry Lee, have a son, Marc, and a daughter, Reagan Russell. The family has a proud athletic tradition as Marc was a punter for Arkansas’ football team, while Reagan was a member of the women’s track and field team at Louisiana-Lafayette. Booth also has six grandchildren.
USTFCCCA Hall of Fame Class of 2012