Another coaching domino has fallen with even more ripple effects elsewhere in the NCAA: Illinois State has hired Indiana University assistant Caitlin Hamilton as the new head coach of their women’s swimming & diving program. That move also leaves Indiana down three assistants from last year’s staff.
Hamilton is a familiar face in the Illinois State area – she’s a graduate of Normal Community High School in Normal, Illinois, which is where Illinois State is based. She’s got a strong swimming legacy in the midwest: Hamilton was a student-athlete All-American at Purdue, and went on to serve as an undergraduate assistant there. She also coached at IUPUI before taking the Indiana job. She’s been with the Hoosiers for the past two seasons, working with both the men’s and women’s programs.
Hamilton’s hiring is another step for the sport in addressing its gender disparity in coaching positions. Last year, swimming & diving both received “F” grades from the Tucker Center for Research on women coaching women’s teams at the NCAA level. The lack of female coaches in the NCAA (and the resulting lack of eligible female coaches for Team USA appointments) has been a big topic of conversation in recent years, and earlier this year, we compiled a list of all the Division I female head swimming & diving coaches we could find, coming up with only about 27 names.
The other broader storyline this hire furthers is Indiana’s need to rebuild its coaching staff. Assistant sprint coach Kirk Grand left the program this spring to move to Colorado Springs, and just a few weeks later, Indiana’s associate head sprint coach Coley Stickels took the high-profile head coaching opening at the University of Alabama. With Hamilton now leaving for the Illinois State gig, Indiana will now only return head coach Ray Looze, diving coach Drew Johansen and associate head coach Mike Westphal from last year’s staff.
The NCAA coaching carousel continues to turn as jobs fill up. The Stanford men’s head coaching opening is easily the biggest job still open, but UNC still has an opening, as does Princeton. Meanwhile Indiana and Arizona are each in need of multiple assistants, and Cal and Tennessee both need to replace departing assistants as well. You can check out our NCAA coaching update from last week here.
Illinois State competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, where they finished 5th among the 8 women’s programs last year. Hamilton should inherit All-Conference flyer/IMer Kierston Farley-Sepe, All-Conference breaststroker Jensen Keck and All-Conference diver Caroline Lecoeur.