The new indoor track and field facility at the University of Kentucky will be called the Jim Green Indoor Track and Field Center, named for Jim Green, the first African American student-athlete at Kentucky and in the Southeastern Conference to win NCAA and SEC Championships. The UK Board of Trustees approved the facility name on Friday.
“The Jim Green Indoor Track and Field Center will highlight the groundbreaking career of a UK alumnus – the first African American student-athlete to graduate from the University of Kentucky,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “I am pleased that the facility be named in honor of 1971’s fastest man in the world, Jim Green.”
“I am elated!” Green said. “It is a great honor and so very exciting – to have your name attached to something like this is special. I want to thank the University for everything they have done for me.”
The new facility will improve the training and efficiency of UK’s men’s and women’s indoor/outdoor track & field and cross country teams. The building will be located adjacent to the UK Outdoor Track and the teams’ locker rooms and strength and conditioning areas in Shively Sports Center. It will feature a high-banked track, enabling the runners to train on a surface that is now standard for NCAA and SEC indoor championships.
The Board of Trustees also approved a pledged $7.5 million gift from Joe and Kelly Craft, which will be applied toward the new indoor track and the renovation of the Nutter Field House – the current indoor track – for primary use as a football facility.
“Joe and Kelly have been talking about this gift for months,” Barnhart said. “I am thankful it has come to fruition and equally excited about how the Crafts have asked us to recognize this gift in honor of Jim. The gift also underscores the Crafts’ commitment to our football program while supporting the 100 students who compete in track and field.”
Green was one of the SEC’s pioneers of integration and was a 2007 inductee into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame. He’s an inductee into six Halls of Fame.
“Mr. Green is one of the all-time great Wildcats so we’re proud to have his name bestowed on our coming indoor facility,” said Lonnie Greene, head coach of track & field and cross country. “It will be an honor to send our young athletes out to train and compete in a facility bearing such a prestigious namesake. Mr. Green blazed a courageous path of opportunity for so many who followed him, including our current team. We look forward to building a great facility befitting such a brave hero of sport at our University.”
Green was the first African American at UK to serve as co-captain on the track team and in December 1971 became the first African American student-athlete to graduate from UK.
Despite facing open hostility at many competitions, Green succeeded at the highest levels of collegiate sport. He was a two-time NCAA champion, winning the indoor 60-yard dash in 1968 and 1971.
He earned All-America honors six times and won eight SEC individual events, including the indoor 60-yard dash (1968, 1971), outdoor 100-yard dash (1968, 1970, 1971), and outdoor 220-yard dash (1968, 1970, 1971).
A 1971 UK graduate, Green was born in Eminence, Ky. While in high school, he excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. Jim broke state records in the 70-, 100-, 220- and 440-yard dashes. After high school, he committed to compete at UK in track and field.
The UK Board of Trustees approved spending of $20 million for the indoor track earlier this year as part of $30 million in approved funds for three UK Athletics capital projects, including new football scoreboards and the Nutter Field House renovation. The facilities are being financed by UK Athletics fundraising, which is in progress. UK Athletics will continue working with campus leadership during the design phases and timelines for completion will be determined as the projects are developed.
Fans interested in contributing directly to the projects can give to the “Kentucky Can” Capital Fund by clicking this link taking them to a donation page.
About UK Athletics
UK Athletics is a leader in college sports, sponsoring 23 varsity sports teams (12 women’s teams plus the coed rifle team) and hundreds of student-athletes, competing for championships, ensuring their education and well-being, and providing opportunities for the present and future.
The UK Women’s Track and Field Team earned an NCAA podium third-place team finish both indoors and outdoors in 2022.