The University of Arizona will be hiring Virginia’s Augie Busch as its new head coach for men’s and women’s swimming and diving, sources tell SwimSwam.
Busch has been the head coach at the University of Virginia for the past four seasons, winning ACC titles in three of those four years and putting up a pair of top-5 NCAA finishes. Busch had long been rumored to be one of the top candidates for the vacant Arizona job, carrying several key ties to the Wildcat program.
Busch is an Arizona alumnus himself, graduating the university in 1998. He’s also the son of longtime Arizona head coach Frank Busch. Frank Busch led the Wildcats from 1989 until 2011, when he took over as USA Swimming’s National Team Director.
Since then, Arizona’s had quite a bit of turnover at the top of its coaching staff. The Wildcats hired Eric Hansen away from Wisconsin in 2011, but by the fall of 2013, Hansen took an unexpected leave of absence from the team and eventually resigned. The school then tabbed longtime assistant Rick ‘Rocket’ Demont to head up the program.
Demont was well-respected in his four years leading the program, but he announced his retirement earlier this spring. Demont had been with the Arizona program in some capacity for 30 years.
Sources also say Augie Busch will be bringing along two key assistants from Virginia who also have Arizona ties. Younger brother Sam Busch will make the trip to Tucson, as will former Arizona standout Cory Chitwood. Both were assistants on staff with Augie Busch in Virginia. That leaves the Cavaliers very likely looking for an outside hire, with their most experienced internal candidates following Busch to his new job.
Here’s the full Arizona press release announcing the hire:
TUCSON, Ariz. – Augie Busch has been named Arizona head swimming and diving coach, Director of Athletics Dave Heeke announced on Saturday. A UA assistant for eight seasons under his legendary father Frank Busch and a UA alumnus, Busch returns to Arizona after spending the last four seasons as head coach at Virginia and the previous two seasons as the head women’s coach at Houston.
“The opportunity to return to the University of Arizona as the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving program is both unexpected and thrilling,” Busch said. “Tucson is not only the place of my fondest family and college memories, but of my proudest professional accomplishments as well. I can’t possibly overstate my gratitude and appreciation to Dave Heeke and Erika Barnes for placing their confidence in me. With whole-hearted determination and fierce loyalty, I look forward to many years of Arizona pride and Wildcat success.”
In four seasons under Busch’s guidance, the Cavalier women won three ACC Championships and posted two fifth-place finishes at the NCAA Championships, the best finishes in program history. The Cavaliers saw 11 individuals earn 25 All-America honors and 22 honorable mention All-America honors, while producing nine All-America relays and eight honorable mention All-America relays. In four seasons, the Cavaliers set 30 school records, eight ACC records and three NCAA records. Based on these accomplishments, Busch was named the ACC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year three times.
“We’re excited to welcome Augie back to the University of Arizona to lead our prestigious swimming and diving program,” Heeke stated. “Augie has the experience and aptitude to build on the storied history of Arizona swimming and diving. He’s produced high-level results as both a head coach and assistant coach, while developing national-championship and Olympic quality swimmers. I am confident that he’ll lead our program to prominence at both the Pac-12 and NCAA levels.”
In addition to the overall accolades at Virginia, Busch tutored Leah Smith to four NCAA freestyle titles, while Courtney Bartholomew earned four NCAA runner-up finishes in the backstroke. The Cavalier women posted the top relay finish in school history (second in the 400 medley relay in 2015) and recorded the school’s single-season record for NCAA finalist relays with four in 2016.
The Cavaliers were also strong academically under Busch with 38 student-athletes being named to the All-ACC Academic Teams and Ellen Williamson being recognized on the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District squad. Both Williamson and Haley Durmer went on to earn prestigious ACC Postgraduate Scholarships.
In two seasons as the women’s coach at Houston, Busch improved the profile of the Cougars athletically and academically. The Cougars recorded personal-best times in 90 percent of their swims and broke seven school records in 2013, while achieving a program-best 3.42 team GPA. He led the Cougars to a program-best, second-place finish at the Conference USA Championships in 2013, improving on a fourth-place finish in 2012.
Before heading to Houston, Busch was a highly-successful assistant coach at Arizona from 2003-11, when the Wildcats earned 15 top-five NCAA finishes, more than any other program during that period. His tenure was highlighted by both the men’s and women’s programs winning NCAA Championships in 2008.
As an assistant at UA, Busch worked primarily with the backstroke, butterfly and individual medley swimmers, while also serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator. In his eight seasons at Arizona, Busch’s training group produced three NCAA champions, 21 individual All-Americans and swimmers on 10 national championship relay teams.
Busch was instrumental in the success of two Olympians in Albert Subirats of Venezuela and Jake Tapp of Canada. Subirats is one of the most decorated swimmers in UA history with six national titles and 20 All-America accolades. Busch served as an assistant coach for the Venezuelan Olympic team in 2008 as well as for the 2007 Pan American Games.
Prior to his time as an assistant at Arizona, Busch spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Arkansas women’s team, helping the Razorbacks to school records in 15 of 18 events and a 31st-place finish at the 2003 NCAA meet.
Busch began his coaching career in 1996 as an assistant coach for the Hillenbrand Aquatics club team, now known as Ford Aquatics. He was also a volunteer assistant with Arizona from 1998-2001 and he was head coach of a high-profile summer league program, Sabino Vista Hills, during those same years. Busch served as the head swimming coach at Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic from 1999-2000.
A two-time letterwinner on the men’s volleyball team at The Ohio State University, Busch returned to his native Tucson and graduated from Arizona in 1998 with a degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish.