Ball State Coach Kristy Patterson Won’t Return Next Season

The Ball State women’s swim team was informed on Wednesday that head coach Kristy Patterson will not be returning to the team next season after her contract wasn’t renewed. Patterson had been the head coach for the last 6 seasons.

The move comes 2 months after the retirement of head men’s swimming coach Bob Thomas, and clears the way for the school’s plans to combine the programs under a single head coach.

Patterson came to Ball State after a decade as an assistant at her alma mater Akron from 2003-2012, where she also served as an assistant lecturer. As an athlete, she was a two-year team captain and four-year letter winner while setting school records in the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 100 freestyle, and as part of 4 relays.

Ball State has finished last in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship standings in each of the last 5 seasons. In Patterson’s first year leading the program, they were 7th out of 8 teams, but haven’t placed better than 8th since. Ball State has been in the conference’ bottom 3 every season since placing 4th in 2005.

Her time with the Cardinals began promisingly: the team broke school records in 12 swimming events in her first two seasons as head coach combined, some of which had previously stood for more than 20 years. They haven’t broken any since 2014, however, as the program has flat-lined athletically in the last 4 seasons.

The team did excel in the classroom, however. Last season, they placed a conference-best 16 athletes on the Academic All-MAC team, led by sophomores Sophie Bader and Anne Vormohr with perfect 4.0 GPAs, and in the 2016-2017 season the team had a cumulative GPA of 3.65, earning CSCAA Scholar All-America honors.

We have reached out to Ball State and Patterson to ask about the move, but they have not responded. Ball State recently announced Beth Goetz as the school’s new Director of Athletics.

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Please, please, please don’t be the beginning of another program going away. Long time coach retires, women’s coach resigns, and a new AD! Moves that has the making of tough decisions on the horizon.


Coach Patterson didn’t resign, her contract was not renewed after 6 bad seasons. Hopefully this move will allow the men and women teams to improve in their conference.


The NCAA has a female coach retention problem.


This is an accurate statement.

This is also an accurate statement: Ball State had a ‘getting last place’ problem.

Not sure that this particular departure is indicative of the female coach retention problem that NCAA swimming has.


Both statements are true, and Ball State has been struggling for years to place well within the MAC. I don’t know the details of this coach’s departure, but it is part of an overall trend for female coaches to not be supported or drummed out of coaching for various reasons. My money would be on a male coach being appointed to the emerging combined program.


Ball St offers zero swim scholarships. Any AD that makes that choice knows upfront that the team will finish behind every funded team in the conference. The metrics for coaching success in that situation are things like team GPA, grad rates, alumni engagement, etc. What happens in the pool is pre-destined by the AD, no matter who the coach is. Boston College in the ACC is the same situation.


Ball State is nearly or completely fully funded on the women’s side. You are correct, no scholarships on the men’s side.


As a member of this team for 4 years, this is the best decision the school has made thus far regarding this program. Such talent recruited in during my time with the team and such a lack of development which led to repeated last place finishes in the MAC. So glad to see the team now has the chance to finally flourish under someone new!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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