Joe Franklin enters his eighth year as the head track and field/cross country coach at the University of New Mexico. Franklin took over the program on June 18, 2007 after 13 years in the same role at Butler University. He replaced Matt Henry who retired after seven years at New Mexico. Franklin is the seventh men's and fifth women's head track and field coach at UNM.
"I'm excited and thrilled," Franklin said at the time of his hiring. "This is a very unique opportunity, especially when you look at the great tradition and history that New Mexico has had in cross country and track and field. I think the University of New Mexico and city of Albuquerque are tremendous settings for competition and training and places that provide unique opportunities for student-athletes."
Franklin said he has lofty expectations for the future of the UNM track and cross country programs.
"The goals for the program are always to see where we can max out in every event," he said. "Let's see how high we can go. Let's see if we can get to be a top-10 team in cross country. Let's see if we can get to be a top-25 team in track and field. We want to have athletes in the sprints, throws, jumps, vaults and distance events qualifying for the NCAAs consistently and then see if we can build on that and start moving up in the team standings."
Since that time Franklin has wasted little time making his mark at New Mexico and achieved many of the goals he laid out in his hiring.
In 2008 the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association created a "Program of the Year" award to honor those teams who succeeded in all three sports — cross country, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field — on a yearly basis at the NCAA Championships. Since the awards inception New Mexico has made the list five times on the men's side and once on the women's side. In fact, New Mexico is one of only two schools to to finish in the final standings each of the last five years, joining Texas. UNM is also one of just six institutions (including Florida State, Texas, Oregon, Stanford and BYU) to have placed in the final standings at least five times.
Franklin has also assembled a considerable collection of championship hardware while helming UNM. Since the start of the 2009-10 school year, the Franklin-led Lobos have claimed the most conference titles of any Mountain West member, with 14 total (five women's cross-country; five men's cross-country; two men's indoor track & field; one men's outdoor track & field; one women's indoor track & field). Only departed member BYU comes close, with eight title in the same span.
2013 saw New Mexico reign supreme in the Mountain West once again. The men won their fifth consecutive MW championship, while the women rolled to their sixth straight. The Lobos, with five consecutive sweeps of the conference titles, have the second-longest active streak — and the fourth-longest in Division I history — of conference sweeps. All five men’s scorers placed in the top 15 on the men's side, while seven women were among the top 16 finishers on the women's. The Lobos cruised back to the NCAA Championships, as the women made their sixth consecutive NCAA appearance, while the men were making their fifth straight. Together, UNM’s streak is tied for the 10th longest streak in Division I history. At the national meet, the women raced to a 10th-place finish behind All-Americans Silva and Arter, while the men took 11th as a result Caldwell’s second straight All-American performance.
During the 2011 cross-country season the Lobo men and women repeated as MWC champions, the women gaining their fourth-in a row and the men their third. Ross Millington and Ruth Senior led the charges for the men and women, respectively, as the duo claimed the top individual finishes. Both groups qualified for the NCAA Championships where the women finished ninth in the nation. Coach Franklin was again accorded Coach of the Year for both genders. He then gained NCAA Mountain Region Coach of the Year for the women's cross-country team.
In 2010, the Lobo women's cross country program took their third consecutive MWC title, while the men made it two in a row. Franklin was again the Coach of the Year with both programs and Natalie Gray was chosen as MWC Athlete of the Year after taking home the individual title. The teams then went to the NCAA regional championship and took both titles there with Franklin being named NCAA Regional Coach of the Year. At the NCAA Championships the Lobo women placed fifth with two runners, Natalie Gray and Ruth Senior, earning All American honors. The men's program finished 16th with All-American Keith Gerrard leading the way.
In 2009, the Lobo program really took off, with both the men and women winning MWC cross-country titles, and Coach Franklin earning Coach of the Year honors for both genders. Both teams then qualified for the NCAA championship where the men finished eighth and the women 13th. Only eighteen programs qualified both men's and women's teams to the NCAA and when adding the team scores together UNM was the fourth best program in the country.
In 2008, the women turned in one of the best cross country seasons in program history to that point. New Mexico won its first conference title, edging BYU 31-33 in the closest women's championship meet in MWC history. The Lobos set program records with three first team all-conference runners and five total all-conference honorees. Franklin was named MWC Women's Coach of the Year. New Mexico went on to finish second at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships and placed a school record six women on the all-region team en route to a 70-point score - the team's lowest since 1981. A week later, junior Nicky Archer (56th) led the Lobos to an 18th place finish at NCAA Championships in their first trip to the national meet since 1985.
During 2007, senior Jeremy Johnson won the Mountain West Conference men's title and earned All-America honors by placing 20th in his NCAA Cross Country Championship debut. The Lobo men turned in their best ever MWC performance, finishing second with a score of 51, the team's best at a conference meet since 1965. UNM also had a program-best four runners earn All-MWC honors on the men's side.
During his time in Indianapolis, Franklin built the Butler program into a national force in men's and women's cross country. He led eight teams (six men's, two women's) to the NCAA Cross Country Championships between 1998-2006 with seven squads earning top-25 finishes. In 2004, Franklin was named NCAA Cross Country Coach of the Year after leading the Butler men to a program-best fourth place finish at the national meet. The Bulldogs sent a team to the NCAA Championships five of the last six years Franklin was at the helm and dominated the Horizon Conference in cross country. In 2006, the men's team won its ninth straight conference title, while the women won their fifth in a row. Franklin earned conference Coach of the Year honors 17 times in cross country and was named Men's Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year in 1998. He also earned conference Indoor Track Coach of the Year honors twice at Butler. Under Franklin, Butler athletes earned track or cross country All-America honors nine times, won 128 conference titles and earned 276 all-conference awards. On the track, Butler had three outdoor All-Americans with Mitchell winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase national title in 2005, Becky Lyne finishing third in the 800 in 2003 and Fraser Thompson placing seventh in the 5,000 in 1999. Scott Overall became Butler's first indoor track All-American in 2007 when he finished sixth in the mile run. Butler athletes also fared well in the classroom under Franklin's watch. The men and women both posted team grade point averages over 3.2 in the fall of 2006 and Thompson earned a Rhodes Scholarship in 2002 - the highest academic award ever by a Butler University student.
A native of Greencastle, Ind., Franklin was a four-year letterman in track at Purdue University and a two-time all-Big 10 Conference honoree in the 800 (2nd - 1989, 3rd - 1991). He received his bachelor's in Professional Writing in 1991 and his master's degree in Education Administration in 1994, both from Purdue. Franklin and his wife, Melinda, have a 17-year-old son, Elijah.
2007-current: University of New Mexico
Head Men's and Women's Track & Field/Cross Country Coach
1994-07: Butler University
Head Men's and Women's Cross Country/Track & Field Coach
1992-94: Purdue University
Asst. Men's Cross Country/Track & Field Coach
1991-92: DePauw University
Head Cross Country Coach
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Thank you for choosing to donate to University of New Mexico Athletics! We encourage you to contribute $50 or more to become a Lobo Club member.
If you have ever made a donation to the Lobo Club online, over the phone, or in person, it is very likely that you already have an account for our Online Donation Center and do not need to create a new one. If you are unsure or don't remember your login information, please contact the Lobo Club at 505-925-CLUB (2582) and we will check our system.
As always, thank you for your support of the Lobo Club, the Gateway to Giving for University of New Mexico Athletics.
Questions? Please call: 505-925-CLUB (2582)