Niagara University has announced the hiring of Eric Bugby as the new head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. Josh Larcom is still listed as the program’s head diving coach, while it will be up to Bugby to hire the school’s “first full-time assistant coach.”
“Eric emerged as the lead candidate for our head coaching position because of his extensive experience in developing student-athletes,” said Niagara director of athletics Simon Gray. “In addition to training top-level student-athletes, Eric will be focused on providing an elite-level experience for all members of our programs. One of Eric’s first tasks will be hiring our first full-time assistant coach whose priorities also align with our University mission.”
Gray’s comments reflect upon the departure of the program’s previous head coach, Ben Nigro, who left the program in early October after 3 current or former members of the women’s swimming & diving team sued the school, saying that they were sexually harassed by members of the school’s men’s team, and that Nigro didn’t properly address the issue.
Niagara, which has been without a listed head coach for that period, has swum 5 men’s dual meets in that period, losing 4 and winning 1, against Youngstown State. The women’s team has lost all 6 dual meets they’ve raced since Nigro left the program. Both teams’ schedules shows no more meets until a diving invite in mid-January, followed by 2 more dual meets before the MAAC Championships from February 12th-15th.
The 47-year old Nigro had been the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming teams at Niagara for 13 seasons. While one diver is among the 3 women who filed the lawsuit, Larcom was not named in the case.
Bugby comes to the program from Lehigh University, where he was the associate head coach for men’s and women’s swimming and diving. In 2018, Lehigh head coach Rob Herb was named the Patriot League Women’s Coach of the Year after the team earned 5 NCAA “B” qualifying times. In Bugby’s 2+ seasons at Lehigh, the men’s and women’s teams combined to break 32 school records. Bugby was the only paid swimming assistant coach on staff – they still have 2 graduate assistants, a student coach, a diving coach, and a strength and conditioning coach.
Prior to that, he spent a year at Denver, where the team won all 34 Summit League conference event titles in 2017. He also had previous stops as a graduate assistant at Arizona State from 2007-2009, twice at Army – West Point as an assistant from 2010-2013 and as associate head coach from 2014-2016, and as the head coach at Illinois Tech from 2013-2014.
Niagara finished 8th out of 10 teams at last year’s MAAC Men’s Conference Championship meet, and 5th out of 10 teams at the MAAC Women’s Conference Championship meet.