March 28, 1904—March 1, 1999
During his tenure as head coach, which ran from 1947 to 1972, Tom Botts led the University of Missouri Tigers track and field program to eight conference championships as well as a national indoor championship in 1965. He coached 48 conference champions, 23 All-Americans, five national champions and two Olympians in his time at MU.
He was named to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1983 and the track at Westminster College bears his name.
Mr. Botts’ former athletes remember him as a man who earned the respect and admiration of everyone he coached.
“He was a person that you looked up to and admired,” said Jean Madden, who ran track for Botts during the late 1940s. “He had the capacity to bring out the best in you without putting any pressure on you.”
A hurdler himself for Westminster in the 1920s, he learned every aspect of the sport and attempted to share this knowledge with those who ran for him.
“He was a student of all the events and he passed this knowledge to us very well,” said former athletic director Mel Sheehan, who earned All-American honors while competing under Mr. Botts.
Mr. Botts’ influence on his athletes was not just limited to the track. Many of his athletes considered him a surrogate father and went to him for advice and guidance.
“He was very much a father figure and a mentor,” Madden said.
Mr. Botts’ accomplishments on the track can be found in the record books. His greatest achievements, however, cannot be listed in terms of times and distances or wins and losses.
“As a young coach, it was great to see how much Botts was respected by everyone,” MU assistant track coach Jeff Pigg said. “He was a man of tremendous character and great values.”