The University of Alabama has announced Indiana sprint coach Coley Stickels as its new head coach for men’s and women’s swimming & diving. Stickels was previously the associate head sprint coach for the Hoosiers.
Stickels was rumored to be one of the top candidates at Alabama, which has become something of a sprint powerhouse in recent years. Alabama alum Dennis Pursley had coached the program since 2012, but retired at the end of this collegiate season. His men’s team finished 7th and his women’s team 34th at the NCAA Championships this past year.
Stickels has been with Indiana since 2017. Prior to that, he was a highly-regarded club coach with the Canyons Aquatic Club in California, training U.S. Olympian Abbey Weitzeil as a high schooler. He’ll take over an Alabama program that graduates star sprinter Robert Howard, but should return Zane Waddell and Sam Disette on the men’s side and Flora Molnar on the women’s side. The women also return NCAA scoring distance swimmer Kensey McMahon.
For Indiana, Stickels departure leaves a major gap in the sprints. IU already lost assistant sprint coach Kirk Grand, who is moving to Colorado Springs and leaving the IU program as well.
The Alabama job was one of the bigger openings this off-season, though some major ones still remain: the Stanford men and UNC’s combined program the other two Power-5 conference openings. The SEC will continue to see fresh blood in its coaching ranks: Florida’s Anthony Nesty and Jeff Poppell, plus Auburn’s Gary Taylor were rookie head coaches in 2018-2019.