Former Ohio State Head Coach Bill Wadley Dies

Former Ohio State swimming & diving head coach and ASCA CEO Bill Wadley has died after a bout with pancreatic cancer.

It was learned in late June that Wadley had an “aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.”

Wadley was the longtime coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, leading the program for 28 years, with his tenure ending after the 2016-2017 season when he announced his retirement.

During his time at OSU Wadley coached 16 Olympians, 30 Big Ten champions, earned the 2010 Big Ten Coach of the Year award, and posted an impressive 253-42 dual meet record.

Less than a year after leaving Ohio State, Wadley was named the Director of the Youth Swim Program for the Des Moines YMCA in Iowa.

Beginning in October 2020, Wadley had a brief stint as CEO of the American Swimming Coaches’ Association (ASCA) through January 2021. He resigned after a vote of no-confidence by the Board of Directors following several legal issues.

During his time at OSU, Wadley also spent time as the Technical Swimming Chairman for the International University Sports Federation (FISU), which organizes the World University Games. He has also been a board member for USA Swimming and was on the NCAA’s peer mentoring committee.

He also has plenty of international coaching experience, being a member of the USA team staff at the 1991, 1993 and 2009 World University Games, the 1998 Goodwill Games and the 2011 Duel in the Pool.

Prior to OSU, Wadley spent two years as the men’s swimming coach at Michigan State University, coaching the women’s team in his final year with the Spartans as well.

Wadley, a native of Rockford, Ill., was a 1979 graduate of Austin Peay State University. Wadley leaves behind his wife, Gail, and two sons, Brian and Michael.

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sidney appelboom
13 days ago

RIP Bill, you will always be my only ‘coach’. Mentor/friend/coach who took a plane (from Lansing Mi, because I was swimming backwards) to get me ready in 3 days for the Seoul Olympics. When he saw I was poised to do well he left; stayed only 3 days because he had to coach back home and did not even see me swim. Thanks for everything and so much more!!!

thomas martin
13 days ago

Very sad news. A wonderful man who gave his life to the sport of swimming.

To the editor– the part about a “no vote” and a domestic issue for which his role was never clarified, really?
Shame on you.

RIP Coach Wadley

Tommy Lindell
13 days ago

RIP Bill!

SwimKen
13 days ago

A man just died. Mentioning his ASCA CEO tenure was shortened because of a no-confidence vote as well as the legal issues at a house he owned really isn’t necessary and rather in poor taste.

erik
Reply to  SwimKen
13 days ago

Can’t say I’ve ever been the biggest fan, but I’m quite surprised comment sections are open on articles where a coach passes…

tallswimmer
Reply to  SwimKen
13 days ago

I’m sorry for Bill’s friends and family, but the tragic events in the last few years are absolutely worth mentioning in an obituary. It’s disingenuous to turn every departed soul into a saint.

Brian Wadley
Reply to  tallswimmer
13 days ago

This isn’t an obituary though. It’s a blog article.

Bruh
Reply to  Brian Wadley
13 days ago

“ a notice of a death, especially in a newspaper, typically including a brief biography of the deceased person.” by definition, this is an obituary

Steve Nolan
Reply to  tallswimmer
13 days ago

Whenever Klete Keller dies you’re for sure gonna get a bit about Jan 6th in there. (Much like how OJ Simpson isn’t just gonna get an obituary about his Heisman-winning season, they may mention some off-the-field stuff.)

Mike
13 days ago

Bill was a mentor and a great friend; particularly over the past 6 months after losing a job and suffering a heart attack. Love you man………

Jessica Carle
Reply to  Mike
13 days ago

when did he have a heart attack?

Swim3057
Reply to  Jessica Carle
13 days ago

He had the heart attack while still coaching Ohio State probably around 10-12 years ago. As was his style, he kept it quiet.

kahunapapi
13 days ago

As humans we all have flaws – but Bill was one of those people who could make you feel like you were his best friend and the only person he wanted to be speaking with at the moment – even if you hadnt seen him for months or years – I will miss you good friend.

Texas Furrrever
Reply to  kahunapapi
13 days ago

Nope not Bill. He never had flaws. He was perfect. Just read the comments!

Plainjane
13 days ago

The comment about someone being shot at a property he owned by a police officer was absolutely unnecessary. Who ever wrote this article should be fired. The guy just died. That is completely unrelated and unnecessary part of an article supposed to be about a man’s life. Is the author implying he somehow is a racist terrible human being because he owned a property that something bad happened at? This is absurd.

Tim Lewarchick
Reply to  Plainjane
13 days ago

Bill was a great coach, mentor, and someone that gave a lot to the sport of swimming in many different ways. He loved to teach the importance of learning on how to swim from a beginner to a world class swimmer. He should be celebrated and honored on what he gave to the sport. Completely unnecessary on what supposedly happened that one night, you should of got that facts straight from Bill before you published, he asked that you did.
Rest In Peace my friend, you will be missed

N P
Reply to  Plainjane
13 days ago

Although I agree we should be nothing but respectful, I don’t think it’s fair to immediately absolve the dead of all possible wrongdoing. People shouldn’t automatically become saints after they pass.

My prayers go out to his friends and family.

SLM
Reply to  N P
13 days ago

I think plainjane’s point was other than owning the home where the tragedy occurred, he wasn’t implicated in the event and it serves no purpose/worth mentioning in reporting/honoring his death. No one is trying to absolve wrongdoing – there has been no proof he was involved in any wrongdoing in relation to this event, so why rehash this controversy again?

Last edited 13 days ago by SLM
Texas Furrrever
Reply to  SLM
13 days ago

Lol you didn’t read to the end of that story did you? Scroll down to the bottom: https://swimswam.com/former-ohio-state-swim-coach-owns-home-where-man-was-killed-by-columbus-police/

thomas martin
Reply to  Texas Furrrever
13 days ago

yeah you just don’t get it do you

fairisfair
Reply to  N P
13 days ago

Nothing about this comment suggests absolving anyone of wrong doing, however, there have been previous articles about all of this extra garbage and he was never arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime and anything else is just he said/she said BS and has ABSOLUTELY no place in this article, or anywhere else for that matter. I cannot understand why it is now ok for the media to report this crap while offering no opposing dialog and no credible evidence of wrong doing… especially Swimswam! This should have been an article about a man who influenced many lives over his time in swimming. Like him or not, he has died and should NOT have been persecuted posthumously by a perosn… Read more »

Mike
Reply to  N P
13 days ago

I think it is the “possible” wrong doing that is much of the problem. It’s not like the article points out a conviction or even arrest for some troubled part of his life. It just furthers innuendo that he may have been involved in something bad. If this were a notice of accepting a new job maybe that would be relevant but in a story of his death it is gratuitous.

Thoughtandswam
Reply to  Mike
13 days ago

Gratuitous?? how about unprofessional!? How about uniformed? I notice the article has been updated since first posted. While that is a good thing how about an apology from Braden for allowing it to hit the internet in the first place!

tim bowers
Reply to  Mike
11 days ago

The sad truth is nothing was done wrong. A many shows up at their house and an unarmed person of color was shot by the policy. I am familiar with this story.

Texas Furrrever
Reply to  Plainjane
13 days ago

Did y’all glaze over the part about the domestic abuse?

“supposed to be about a man’s life” – what part of that isn’t about his life?? What you meant to say “this is only supposed to be about the positive part of his life, we want to pretend like the bad parts didn’t happen.”

tim bowers
Reply to  Texas Furrrever
11 days ago

The sad truth is, yes the statement may be true, but it dealt with a relative who lived there and poor decisions that person made about folks she hung out with. They could have stated those facts but instead they were omitted to let the reader make assumptions.

Brendan
13 days ago

My team used to compete against OSU and we were well behind them in talent. After a bad swim, I recall Bill coming over to me during warm down and complementing me on my breaststroke kick. He also welcomed me to train with the team over the summer if I wanted. This is the last thing I expected from such a high caliber coach. Rest in peace Bill!

Same Same
Reply to  Brendan
13 days ago

Nice comment. These are the comments people who don’t know him want o read. Share a nice personal moment or memory from colleagues and his swimmers. Stop filling the comments with arguments about what’s mentioned in the article – it is purely outlining his whole career and sometimes, we all know, coaches can have good & bad moments.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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