There is finally some closure out of the University of Arizona today, as the school has officially announced that former head men’s & women’s swimming & diving coach Eric Hansen has resigned from his position.
In news first in to SwimSwam, we have learned today from a University spokesperson that the team was told this afternoon of the decision, which clears up much, but not all, of the questions that have swirled since Hansen took a leave of absence on October 22, 2013 for undisclosed reasons. Several rumors have swirled about what caused Hansen’s leave, but we were unable to substantiate any from reliable sources. Hansen hasn’t responded to several requests for contact over the last three months. The school didn’t provide any further information as to the reasons for the leave of absence, and swimmers were not given any more details in their team meeting today either.
“I have decided to resign my position as head swimming and diving coach at Arizona,” Hansen said in a statement released through Arizona. “After taking a leave from the program in October, I came to the decision that it would be best for me to step down and pursue other interests. I want to thank athletics director Greg Byrne and the current athletic administration for the opportunity I was given.”
Hansen was an assistant for the Wildcats from 1996-1999, at which point he left to take over as the head coach of Wisconsin. He returned to Tucson, from where he earned his Master’s Degree, in the 2011-2012 season to become the head coach after Frank Busch took over as the USA Swimming National Team Director. There were several transfers, both into and out of his program, in two-plus seasons, though it was at a rate not totally inconsistent than most head coaching changes (see places like Virginia for other recent examples).
“I want to thank Eric for serving as Arizona’s head swimming and diving coach,” said Byrne. “Although Eric will no longer serve as head coach, he remains very supportive of Arizona swimming and diving, and we thank him for his service to the program. Associate head coach Rick Demont will serve as interim head coach until a new head coach is named. We plan to open the position and conduct a national search. I’m confident we will find an excellent head coach to lead our swimming and diving program.”
In Hansen’s second full year at Arizona the 2012-2013 season, his women’s team finished 5th at the NCAA Championships, including NCAA titles by Margo Geer in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyles; and his men finished 2nd, including American and NCAA Record-crushing performances by breaststroker Kevin Cordes.
Associate Head Coach Rick DeMont will continue providing leadership to the program, as he has done since Hansen took his leave of absence, and Omar Ojeda remains as the head diving coach. Demont has now for the first time, however, been given the interim title.