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After 16 years, Joe Franklin steps down as The University of New Mexico head coach for Track & Field to become the new head coach for Louisville. Photo courtesy of Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos

Joe Franklin's final run with the Lobos

Legacy of success

After 15 seasons with UNM’s Cross Country and Track & Field programs, Head Coach Joe Franklin has left on June 16. Franklin was named the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

Franklin came to UNM in 2007 and has had lots of success with the program; as a two-time national coach of the year, his athletes earned a total of 201 All-American Honors and multiple of his athletes have gone on to compete in the Olympics.

Coach Franklin had the experience and knew how to prepare his athletes for the professional level of the sport. Assistant coach, Annie Richards, saw how Franklin worked to do everything he could to empower both his athletes and coaching staff.

“He would build a relationship with athletes that would last beyond just their collegiate running careers because he knew how to help them navigate the next step and how to set up for success beyond running,” Richards said. “It’s pretty amazing how big his coaching tree has spread and the number of lives he’s impacted.”

In Franklin’s second season at UNM, he began a winning streak with the Women’s Cross Country team. Since then, the team has won 15 consecutive Mountain West Championship team titles, including the most recent one this past season in 2022.

He led the Women’s Cross Country team to their first national title at the NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships in 2015, and did it again in 2017 – the first national win for Lobo Women’s Cross Country.

Christina Nisoli, an athlete in the UNM Cross Country and Track & Field program, said she was thankful for Coach Franklin and his dedication, to not only her as an athlete, but to the entire team.

“Coach Franklin as well as Coach Annie (Assistant Coach: Distance/Middle Distance) not only plan workouts, but meets as well. They take care of all the planning, registration and traveling for meets which is incredibly helpful,” Nisoli said.

As a coach, it’s important to show your athletes that you support them within their sport but also outside of it. Richards said Franklin empowered his assistant coaches and put his faith in them to help the Lobos succeed.

“One of the things about Joe Franklin that makes him a great coach and a great person to work with is that he is an advocate for both his athletes and staff,” Richards said. “You don’t always find someone like that.”

Franklin took the Lobo Track & Field teams to six Mountain West Championships. Under his coaching, the Lobos won the Mountain West Conference Men’s Indoor titles from 2013-2015, Women’s Indoor titles in 2014 and 2015 and the Men’s Outdoor team title in 2014.

Coach Franklin’s departure was sudden. UNM’s Athletic Director, Eddie Nuñez, spoke with Franklin shortly before he made the decision to accept the offer from Louisville.

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“He was really contemplating this opportunity … I told him ‘This is your decision. We would love to keep you as our coach. You just let us know,’” Nuñez said.

Franklin’s ultimate decision to leave the program has opened up the opportunity for a new coach to come in. The search has begun for a new Cross Country and Track & Field coach.

“We want to find somebody that can elevate the program just as he did,” Nuñez said.

Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @fran_cicconetti

Francesca Cicconetti

 Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @fran_cicconetti


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