Update: Livingston’s contract details have been updated below.
Drew Livingston has been announced as the new head diving coach at LSU, leaving Virginia, where he led the diving program for the last four seasons. He replaces outgoing coach Doug Shaffer, who announced his retirement at the end of last season.
This is a return to LSU for Livingston, who was a graduate assistant at LSU for two years under Shaffer.
“We are excited to have Drew return to LSU,” head coach Rick Bishop said. “Over the past several years, Drew has developed great divers at Princeton and as part of a National Championship Team with UVA. He brings great technical and teaching skill that will help carry on the legacy of success that Doug Shaffer established. Drew will be a great partner as we continue to develop the LSU Men’s & Women’s Swimming and Diving programs.”
“I want to thank Rick Bishop and the administration for this opportunity to return to Baton Rouge and lead the LSU Diving program,” Livingston said. “Rick has an exciting vision for the future of LSU Swimming and Diving, and I can’t wait to join Rick and the rest of the coaching staff. Doug Shaffer has built LSU Diving into a national powerhouse. I am honored to continue building on this legacy and provide the best environment possible for our student-athletes to develop in and out of the pool. Geaux Tigers!”
Besides Virginia, Livingston was the head coach at Princeton, where in 2018 the teams combined to qualify three divers for the 2018 NCAA Championship meet. For the men, that was their first qualifiers since 1991 (albeit in an expanded field since then). In his two years there, the diving programs saw a 41% increase in points scored at the Ivy League Championships.
Livingston’s presence provided similar progress to the Virginia Cavaliers, though their women didn’t score any NCAA diving points en route to back-to-back NCAA team titles in 2021 and 2022. Virginia improved substantially in springboard performance, especially, under Livingston, and the Virginia women set new school records in all three events under his watch. He also qualified 8 divers to the NCAA Championships.
Livingston’s Coaching Timeline:
- 2013-2014: University of Texas – volunteer assistant
- 2014-2016: LSU – graduate assistant
- 2016-2018: Princeton – head diving coach
- 2018-2022: Virginia – head diving coach
- 2022-Present: LSU – head diving coach
While Virginia is clearly the more-successful of the two programs, holistically, with the LSU men finishing 9th out of 10 teams at SECs and the LSU women finishing 8th out of 12 teams at SECs last year, when we drill down on a more specific comparison between the diving programs, a seemingly-backward move starts to make more sense.
For one, LSU is a program in a state of rebuilding that can afford to commit more scholarships to diving, at least for now.
LSU has also historically invested more resources into its diving program, and has better diving facilities than does Virginia. LSU also already has All-America and Olympic talent in its diving group. At last year’s NCAA Championships, sophomore Montserrat Lavenant was 13th in women’s 1-meter and 14th on platform, while junior Anne Tuxen was 16th on platform, among many other performances very close to a scoring level. The LSU men last year were led by Juan Celaya, a senior who finished 3rd on 1-meter and 3-meter at the NCAA Championships, with freshman Adrian Abadia Garcia finishing 17th on 1-meter and 19th on 3-meter.
The move is also closer to home for Livingston, a Houston native.
The biggest impact is salary. Livingston’s base pay at Virginia in 2021 was $51,375. At LSU, his starting base salary is $90,000, almost an 80% increase.
Shaffer’s most recent contract included a base salary of $115,000.
Livingston’s contract also includes a $800/month vehicle allowance, and a relocation bonus of $9,000 plus 14 days of temporary housing.
The initial term of the agreement is for two years, through June 2024.
As an athlete, Livington was a two-time NCAA Champion, winning 1-meter in both 2009 and 2012. He was also the 2009 US National Champion on platform.