Georgia Associate Head Coach Jerry Champer Will Transition to Director of Ops Role

It has been a year of transition for the Georgia swimming & diving program after the retirement of 46-year Bulldog coach Jack Bauerle. Among the moves that will reshape the future of the program is a new role for associate head coach Jerry Champer.

Champer, 56, has been a member of the staff at the University of Georgia for 19 seasons (plus two more as a volunteer assistant). In the last 9 seasons, Champer has served as an associate head coach.

Starting next season, Champer will serve as the program’s Director of Operations: a common role for collegiate swimming & diving programs, but a new one for Georgia.

The director of operations role is more of an administrative role that includes responsibilities like managing team budgets, coordinating team and recruit travel, developing itineraries, dealing with NCAA compliance paperwork, and working as a liaison between the program and other parts of the athletics department like equipment managers, training staff, compliance, marketing, and athletics communications.

Champer will continue his work in overseeing the University of Georgia swim camps. He will also be involved in coaching the affiliated Athens Bulldog Swim Club in the summers.

“I am looking forward to my new role and excited about continuing to work with the athletes and staff supporting them the best way that I can in a new way,” Champer said.

While the move happens to coincide with the retirement of his longtime boss, Champer says that it was a change that they had discussed before Bauerle’s retirement.

Champer is part of a Bulldog power-couple of sorts: his wife Lu Harris-Champer retired as the school’s head softball coach at the end of the 2021 season. She led the program at Georgia for 21 seasons. She led the Bulldogs to a pair of SEC regular season titles and the 2014 SEC Tournament Championship. She also took the Bulldogs to the Women’s College World Series five times.

The Bauerle retired, the program was divided by gender, with Stefanie Williams Moreno taking over as the women’s head coach and Neil Versfeld taking over as the men’s head coach.

This move by Champer was foreshadowed last month when Fernando Rodriguez was hired as an assistant with the women’s program. Under current NCAA rules, a combined-gender swimming & diving program is allowed to have four assistant coaches, but separated programs are allowed to have only one each. With both Champer and Brian Smith serving as associate head coaches last year, Rodriguez’s hiring implied that at least one wouldn’t return in the same capacity for next season.

While most of Champer’s coaching legacy has been built under his work at Georgia, he had success in prior stops as well. He served as the head coach at Western Illinois from 1994 through 2001. In that run, he was named the Mid-Continent Conference Men’s Coach of the Year four times and Women’s Coach of the Year twice as the programs won a combined five conference titles. After moving to the Southern States Conference, Champer won two more Men’s Coach of the Year honors, along with two more conference titles, and he finished his run with the Leathernecks with a 2001 Midwest Championships title and a ninth Coach of the Year honor In 2012, he was inducted into the WIU Athletics Hall of Fame as the school’s winningest coach.

Champer is a 1989 graduate of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, where he was a four-year letterwinner, team captain (1987-88), and an All-American in 1987. Following graduation, he served as an assistant coach for the Eagles for two seasons before departing for Western Illinois.


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Olde coach
1 month ago

One of the best! My son was fortunate to be a GA under Jerry at WIU. Learned a lot and got started on a great career as a teacher coach.

1 month ago

Juicy J makin moves!

Roric Fink
1 month ago

Great Guy! Good luck!

Uga Fan
1 month ago


Mark Nedza
1 month ago

They don’t come any nicer. Good luck in your new role Jerry. Go Dawgs!

Former Big10
1 month ago

Jerry is such a kind person, and deserves nothing but the best. Go Dawgs!

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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