Coaching dearth leaves women's swim team high and dry

by CJ Ryan | 8/22/06 5:00am

Athletic Director Josie Harper recently announced that the newly appointed women's swimming coach, Jerry Foley, has retracted his decision to take the position and will not join the Big Green staff.

"It is with excitement that I look forward to the challenges and growth in the women's swimming and diving program at Dartmouth," Foley said in late June when he was given the position.

"Leaving Bucknell was not an easy decision, nor was it taken lightly. Therefore, it would take a special situation and the right fit for my family and me. At Dartmouth we found everything we were looking for and I am humbled to be given this opportunity," Foley said.

Less than two months after being hired, however, he has reconsidered his opportunity, reportedly for family reasons, according to women's swim team member Liz Mancuso '08.

"In the very near future, we're confident that the coaching situation will be resolved in the best interests of our student-athletes," Harper said in a statement released last Monday. "We are evaluating a number of options to ensure the short-term and long-term success of our women's swimming program."

With the season starting Sept. 24 and swim meets beginning in early November, the athletic department has just over one month to find a replacement coach for the women's squad.

"The athletic department has been very communicative with the team in terms of taking our input into consideration, as well as providing us with any new information in their search for a new coach," Mancuso said.

"It's unfortunate that we don't have a swim coach one month out, but the athletic department is doing everything they can to make sure we have a coach by the time the season starts," said Jackie Benson '08, another women's swim team member.

In the meantime, men's swimming head coach Jim Wilson has been filling in as coach for preseason practice and during preseason workouts.

"He thinks of us as his swimmers," said Mancuso. "[Wilson] has been doing a fabulous job with leading us in workouts to prepare us for the fall."

Benson said she was confident the temporary coaching void will not harm the team's chances this year.

"The team looks great," she said. "I'm really looking forward to the coming season."

The women's diving team will not be affected by the loss of a head coach just prior to the season's start. Their coach, Chris Hamilton, remains with the program for his sixth year.

Previously, Foley was the men's and women's swimming and diving coach at Bucknell. Since 1998, Foley headed the Bison program, leading the women to four consecutive Patriot League championships from 2003-2006 and the men to the 2003 title, impressive credentials that led to his being offered the position of head women's swim coach at the College.

Foley, who will not be returning to Bucknell, was to replace Joann Brislin, who resigned to become the College's assistant athletic director for physical education and recreation.

The athletic department did not return The Dartmouth's request for comment on the selection of a new coach for the women's swimming program.