With the NCAA season just around the corner, Eastern Michigan University announced today that Derek Perkins will be the next women’s head coach.
Long-time EMU head coach Peter Linn retired mid-way through August, after many Division I coaching vacancies had already been filled. Linn had helmed the Eagles for 31 years, first leading the men’s program, then both the men’s and women’s teams, then just the women after EMU cut the men’s program last year.
Despite the drama surrounding the men’s team, the Eagle women had a solid season in Linn’s final campaign, sweeping their dual meets and finishing 2nd at the MAC Championships.
Perkins comes to EMU from the University of Kentucky, where he’s coached since 2011 and has been the associate head coach for the last four seasons. Perkins, a Kentucky alum, was the primary middle-distance freestyle and middle-distance stroke coach, according to the UK website. Prior to coming to Kentucky, Perkins had coached at Transylvania, Emory, and Clemson.
Full Press Release
Courtesy of EMU Athletics
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — Eastern Michigan University Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee announced today, Aug. 30, the hiring of Derek Perkins as the new women’s swimming head coach at EMU. A native of Georgetown, Ky., Perkins has spent the past 16 years rising through the NAIA, NCAA Division III, and NCAA Division I ranks.
“Derek is very well respected throughout the sport for his knowledge and our student-athletes will benefit from that experience,” said Wetherbee. “He has demonstrated the commitment to student-athlete development, recruiting and winning that we value. It was clear when members of our staff and our swim team met with him, that he will be a great fit at EMU. ”
Perkins has 16 years of collegiate coaching experience, including the last eight seasons as the associate head coach at the University of Kentucky (2011-19). He also coached at Clemson University (2009-11), Emory University (2004-09), and Transylvania University (2002-04). Working with both men’s and women’s programs throughout his career, Perkins was selected named the 2011 CollegeSwimming.com Rising Assistant Coach of the Year.
“I would like to thank Scott Wetherbee for this tremendous opportunity to serve Eastern Michigan University as head swimming coach,” added Perkins. “I would also like to thank Peter Linn for leaving behind a program that is rich in history and tradition. I look forward to carry on a legacy of excellence and pave the way for the future of EMU swimming and diving. I cannot wait to get started and lead our program to new heights.”
Perkins takes over an EMU swimming and diving program that posted a 104-38-1 mark (.731 winning percentage) and a 62-23 conference tally since the 2004-05 season. Over the past 15 years, Eastern Michigan has captured a combined 45 individual Mid-American Conference individual champions. Furthermore, Delaney Duncan posted the highest finish in program history with a runner-up showing in the 100 Breast at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
Most recently, Perkins was the associate head coach at Kentucky after being elevated to the position prior to the 2015-16 campaign. In that role, he served as the primary middle/sprint coach. He also had additional responsibilities as the director of internal operations and academic director.
With the Wildcats, the women had six consecutive top-25 finishes at the NCAA Championships (2013-19), while the men recorded three top-25 finishes (2012, 2013, and 2019) in that time span. Moreover, more than 74 school records have been rewritten since 2012.
Notable of Perkins’ stint in Lexington, he helped coach then-junior Danielle Galyer to UK’s first swimming national title in 2016. She won the 200-yard backstroke with the sixth-fastest time in U.S. Open history.
Perkins swam at Kentucky from 1998-2002. He returned to UK in 2011 after serving as an assistant coach at Clemson, where he worked primarily as the Tigers’ sprint coach. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Transylvania University and has also spent time as an assistant coach at Emory University.
Perkins was named the 2011 CollegeSwimming.com Rising Assistant Coach of the Year while at Clemson and played an integral part in the Tigers’ men’s team earning its first top-25 finish in school history at the NCAA Championships. Under Perkins, Clemson had four individual NCAA qualifiers and their first men’s relay qualifier since 1989.
Perkins coached the 200 medley relay and 50 freestyle event winners at the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. Under his tutelage, 20 school records were broken at Clemson.
At Emory, Perkins served as the assistant swim coach, recruiting coordinator and aquatics coordinator from 2004-09. During his five seasons at Emory, he coached back-to-back national championship teams in 2005 and 2006, 12 individual national champions, four relay national champions, 58 All-Americans and 55 conference champions. In total, an impressive 93 school records were broken in the five seasons Perkins was at EU.
Prior to his time at Emory, Perkins coached at Transylvania from 2002-04. There, he organized seasonal swim workouts and planned and designed strength and conditioning programs. He helped lead the swimming and diving program to its first-ever conference championship and coached the Transylvania Student-Athlete of the Year in 2004. Ten team records were set during Perkins’ two years as assistant coach.
Perkins closed out his swimming career at Kentucky in 2002 and graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
He and his wife, Cassie, who was a standout diver for Transylvania, have two children, Halle and Riley.