University of New Mexico Athletics said Friday that an anonymous donation of $500,000 has established the James “Jimmy” Butler Track and Cross-Country Student Support Endowment for track and field and cross country athletes.
Butler, an assistant coach at UNM in cross country and track and field, died on Dec. 3. A celebration of life in his honor is scheduled for Jan. 21, 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Albuquerque.
UNM said the endowment will address the “most pressing needs” for athletes in those sports — scholarships, nutrition support, non-insured medical procedures, athlete recruitment expenses, massage therapy and chiropractic treatments.
UNM track and field and cross country coach Joe Franklin said the endowment will meet needs, help athletes reach their goals, and “(for) the rest of time Jimmy will be with our students for every step of their journey in track & field and cross country.”
Butler helped the Lobos to a pair of team NCAA titles in cross country and seven individual titles between cross country and track & field. The Lobos won seven straight Mountain West cross country titles during Butler’s tenure in Albuquerque, extending their streak to 14 in a row.
On the track, Butler helped Courtney Frerichs to an NCAA title and NCAA record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Frerichs won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in that event last year.
Butler “had a tremendous influence on our student-athletes, and now he can continue to influence them,” said UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez. It’s a beautiful and fitting tribute for Jimmy.”
After a stellar high school career at Eldorado High, Butler attended Wake Forest, qualifying for two NCAA cross country championships and a track and field qualifier in the 5,000 meters.
After graduation he coached at Del Norte and Eldorado before getting into collegiate coaching at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Butler earned a master’s degree in Sport Administration from UNM and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Wake Forest.