UA cross country coach James Li retiring after 18 years
James Li, the UA’s associate track and field coach and head cross country coach, is retiring after more than 18 years in charge.
The UA announced Li’s decision in a news release sent Tuesday evening. It did not give a reason for Li’s retirement. Dave Murray, the Wildcats’ cross country coach for 35 years until his retirement in 2002, will lead the Wildcats’ distance runners through the end of the 2020-21 season, the UA announced.
“I am profoundly grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most dedicated and talented student-athletes here at the University of Arizona,” Li said in a news release. “I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the University and to the many colleagues who have supported me and our program. I am proud of the contributions I have been able to make to the program and the university community.”
Li was a two-time Pac-12 Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. He helped guide Arizona student-athletes to over 50 All-America honors and 24 individual conference championships.
UA athletic director Dave Heeke said in a news release that he appreciated Li’s “years of service and commitment to the University of Arizona and its cross country program.
“He has helped generations of elite distance runners achieve national and international success throughout their careers,” Heeke said. “I would like to thank him for his contributions to this University and its student-athletes.”
Head track and field coach Fred Harvey said Li is “one of the best human beings I have ever been associated with.”
It was not immediately clear whether Li’s departure has to do with a recent probe into the track and field program. The UA opened an internal investigation into the program over the summer following complaints from athletes detailing incidences of sexual harassment, bullying and even assault by teammates, both women and men. Eight athletes told the Star that they had been sharing their concerns with athletic department officials for years before the investigation was launched.
At the time, UA officials told the Star that they had made “administrative and roster changes” and that the athletic department will “continue to adjust to meet our goals for the program.” The department would not address at the time what specific changes had been made.