The contract of Paul Moniak, the head coach at Division I University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) has not been renewed, according to members of the Flames’ varsity squad. The posting for that head coaching position has been officially listed, and while the assistant jobs have not been, Noelle Wilhite is no longer listed as an assistant coach on the program’s official website, either.
Moniak had been the head coach of the program for the past 13 years.
While the Flames men’s and women’s programs both took 3rd at the Horizon League Championships, which is a fairly standard position for them. This year, however, the team was struck with disciplinary problems that resulted in missed meets for a significant portion of the teams early in the season.
Whoever takes over this program will have some solid pieces to work with. First and foremost among those is the Flames Natatorium. With the exception of not having platforms for diving, in a balance of meeting spectator and competitor concerns it might be the best in the state of Illinois.
The other asset is a solid recruiting class coming out of the fall. For the men’s team, that includes Tanner Alms, who is a three-time Minnesota A state champion in the 500 free and should be an immediate A-Finalist at the Horizon League Championships in that race. The Flames didn’t have any of those last year.
The women’s team signed Brianna Hines among others, who like Alms is a very good mid-to-distance freestyler with a 4:56.11/10:11.23 in the 500 and the 1000 frees (both of which are scoring events in the Horizon League). She’ll join junior-to-be Veronica Gibson in that middle-distance group; Hines’ best time in the 1000 free would have scored her 3rd at last year’s Horizon League Championships.
Gibson is part of a very good class of juniors next season that form the core of this flames team, and that will hopefully provide solid leadership in the transition to the new coaching staff.
The UIC job is the 4th Division I head coaching role that we know of that is open in what has been a relatively quiet start to this summer’s coaching carousel. The other three are the Cleveland State and UNC-Wilmington jobs, both vacated by retirement; and the Florida Atlantic job, which was vacated under some similar form of “resignation/contract not renewed” as this UIC position.