Indiana Associate Head Coach Jonty Skinner Retires Mid-Season

Veteran Jonty Skinner has retired from coaching, he told SwimSwam in a statement Tuesday.

Skinner was named associate head coach at Indiana University last spring after the program had lost three of its support staff under head coach Ray Looze after the 2018-19 NCAA season. Skinner said he had planned to retire after last season, which is also when his former boss at Alabama — Dennis Pursleyretired, but that Looze recruited him.

Jonty Skinner. (Photo credit: Indiana Athletics)

“I was essentially retired last May with plans to write a book about Brain Training for Swimming until Ray recruited me to work in Bloomington,” Skinner wrote. “The culture in the IU program is exemplary and there were no end of teaching opportunities in the program.  Since I love teaching as much as I enjoy coaching it was fun. The kids in the program are awesome, and I’ve really enjoyed helping them understand the sport of swimming in a way that allows them to take ownership over who they are and what they do. However, I’ve been coaching for 45 years and few months ago I asked myself how many of those 45 years was I off for more than a week or 2 weeks at any one time.  The answer was hardly ever.  When I faced that fact I knew it was time to start that book.  I’m extremely thankful for my short stint in Indiana and although my departure isn’t super timely, we’ve both benefited from the experience.”

Skinner, 65, is a decorated veteran of the sport with ample head coaching experience. His last stint at Alabama as senior associate head coach was his third with the program; Skinner joined the school as an assistant coach after graduating in 1977, returned as associate head coach and then head coach in the late ’80s, and held his last position there for seven years.

After his first stint with the Tide, Skinner coached the San Jose Aquatics Club to a USA Senior National team championship and five USA Junior National team titles. Under Purley’s watch as director of the USA National team in 1994, Skinner was chosen as Skinner as the inaugural coach of USA Swimming’s Resident National Team, then spent the next eight years as USA Swimming’s director of performance science and technology. From 2009-2012, he worked in a similar capacity for British Swimming.

As a swimmer, the South Africa-native Skinner held the 100 free world record from 1976-1981 and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1985.

Indiana’s remaining paid coaching staff consists of assistant coaches Cory Chitwood, Emily Eaton and John Long. After last season, assistant Kirk Grand moved to Colorado, associate head sprint coach Coley Stickels replaced Pursley at Alabama, assistant Caitlin Hamilton became the new head coach at Illinois State, and associate head coach Mike Westphal was fired in September after being arrested on intimidation charges.

SwimSwam has reached out to Indiana for further information. 

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swimmerfromcali

What really happened? No one retires purposely in the middle of a NCAA season unless something fishy is going on.

Pedialyte

Especially being just a few short weeks out from BIG and NCAA. Can any IU swimmer share some insight.

Gatorade

Mind your business

Ol' Longhorn

Well played, Sir.

Don’ttellIUmyname

I’ve been hearing misconduct

LOOZINGCONTROL

Welcome to Indiana!

Swim Coach

Jonty’s reason was completely valid. Coaches struggle with mental health and work-life balance on a scale you wouldn’t believe. We need to let the man retire in peace without wanting to drag IU through the mud 🙄

James Beam

Great point I know Jonty- a man of character. One of the best in the business and if he felt he couldn’t give it 110%, more power to him to step away. I would hope that the SwimSwam audience respects his decision and not fabricate stories. Seems like people will do anything to bring IU down.

Swim Dad

I loved getting to know Jonty on the recruiting trail and would have been happy for my kid to swim for him. That said, you have to admit it isn’t a good look to end a distinguished 45+ year coaching career within two months of the national championship meet and less than 6 months from the Trials that are likely the one shot for the guy from Alabama who left Alabama to follow him in hopes of making the Olympic Team. No clue why now, but Jonty comes across as a real professional from everything I’ve seen and heard, so I wish him well and hope there isn’t a significant health or other challenge precipitating this abrupt departure.

PsychoDad

Nobody can give it 110%.

Taa

The recruits have a vested interest in knowing the facts. If you coached a kid who has committed there I am sure you would want them to know why the associate head coach had to quit right before championship season.

James Beam

he RETIRED- this is the fact!….He did not quit. . Quitting implies you left for another job. RETIREMENT means you are done. Let’s wish Jonty well in retirement!

Not Disappointed

Heard he was given the option to resign before being dismissed. Retiring sounds a whole lot better. In the past year too many stones have been thrown to live in a glass house.

Interesting

@Not disappointed and NATAS..hmmm.. you were the one defending Coley and criticizing some of the UA swimmers on the post about Jack Blake retiring..You had lots of inside information then and NOW you are bashing Jonty.
Hmmm..
I think you are the source of Coley effect🤔

Frank-2

@Not Disappointed and NATAS….Maybe you should reveal yourself with all the insight you have posted on both articles. Agree with @Interesting

Natas

Absolutely. I support Coley and think he gets a bad rap on these forums bc he is passionate and intense. His swimmers do well time and time again everywhere he goes and always speak highly of him. Ryan Held, Margo, and those that have swam for him for years can attest to his character and would not follow a guy around the country if he was indeed abusive.
No need to bash Jonty here just stating facts. His smear campaign ignited some intense reactions and has been dealt with accordingly.

Frank-2

@NATAS….so what you are saying is that as long pro swimmers follow a coach to a new team he/she is then qualified to lead and be the head coach of a college team? As a business owner there are so many more aspects to being a leader, i.e. recognizing talent/skills of others, training and developing the mid-level management and employees, improving the performance of the entire organization as opposed to just the top performers, etc. From the outside looking in Coley appears not to be qualified in “leading” an entire organization. He may be a good “sprint” level coach but doesn’t appear to have all the other tangibles to be the head coach.

Tide Supporter

After 6 months in the job how can you determine Coley doesn’t have the tangibles to be a successful head coach? Especially as an outsider looking in and not someone involved with the team. The transition has had its bumps, already well commented upon, but the team is having a great season and couldn’t be more excited about SEC’s. Coley has brought in a great staff they along with James are doing a fantastic job. Each assistants group is doing as well if not exceeding the sprint group. Pros and NCAA swimmers following Coley does not equal him being a great coach, BUT it is more of a positive indicator than negative so I personally view it as a good… Read more »

Not Disappointed

Inside information? Anything said is common knowledge to anyone remotely close to program. Maybe @interesting and frank 2 should stay off comment sections where they don’t really know what’s going on.

Taa

I didnt say he quit I said he “had to quit” as in he was forced to leave the program. If you are trying to make us believe he just woke up one morning and decided it was time to retire….well that’s just insulting our intelligence.

recruitingisnotfun

My kid is a current Junior in HS and recruited by IU. And Jonty has been a significant draw. Of course they told us this was probably his last coaching position before retirement, but they also told us he’s probably be around for several years! Too bad they couldn’t make something work. Wishing him all the best.

flutterfree

The reason is valid the timing is not

zoo

The reason is valid, just not completely true. The timing speaks volumes, just listen.

zoo

The reason is valid it is just not the truth or at least not completely true. He has thought nothing of dragging others through the mud lately or who else it impacts (UA staff, UA college swimmers, IU staff, IU college swimmers & IU pro swimmers).

The end of Tyranny

Are you sure this isn’t because of his malicious abusive coaching tactics that would leave most swimmers shaking in their shoes? I’ve heard some of what has been said on deck and and the abusive his swimmers go through is truly unprofessional. Single others out too is not a way to build a championship culture especially at such a renowned and established program like IU. There has also been talks about how some swimmers have been forced to swim on their own as a means to discriminate based on unrealistic expectations set upon the swimmers by Ray Looze. It seems as if the focus of IU is to better their pro program and let all others who come be left… Read more »

SwimParent

Trying to get Stickels fired.

Interesting eh

I heard that too

Swimmy

How?

James Beam

Here we go, rumors. Please provide proof before making such a blatantly lie of a comment.

Interesting eh

Don’t know if it was the $30k of stolen Katsu equipment from Alabama the day of his departure or the Facebook post to all Bama alumni trying to get them to join forces get Stickels out? Swimmers at IU have complained about him only speaking negatively about the UA swim team even long after his new job at Indiana took place.

Frank

Who else uses Kaatsu? Literally nobody. Would’ve gone straight to the garbage

Ol' Longhorn

MA. A lot.. Wouldn’t call him a “nobody.”

Frank

You’re right. Coley totally would’ve used Kaatsu had it been left on the pool deck 🙄

Natas

Sounds like a good reason to steal it then.

Not Disappointed

@ James Beam. Ask Jonty about his social media posts before you recklessly accuse someone of spreading a rumor or telling a lie.

Ol' Longhorn

But that would go against all that we hold near and dear on these boards..

Scott Morgan

Agreed. All this unsupported speculation and rumor is awful.

JCO

It’s sad that this is true. Don’t know why he felt the need to post a lengthy rant about Coley and the current state of Alabama swimming on Facebook. Focus on your team and swimmers instead of complaining about how you weren’t picked for the head coaching job at Bama. Now he’s left a swimmer who moved to Bloomington specifically for him (Robert Howard) just months before trials.

Shangri-la

If you knew Jonty well enough you would know exactly why he felt the need to post what he did. He is a rebel and is willing to risk everything for what he believes in, regardless of the consequences. He is true to who he is. The rant was not posted to complain why he was not appointed head coach at bama, but rather to mourn and sympathize with the reality his former swimmers are suffering under stickels and to make the sad truth of Alabama Swimming known. He’s simply not the person to sit there and watch everything he built be burned to ashes without saying a word.

Not true

The ignorance is outstanding

Anonymoose

You’re self aware, bravo

Not Disappointed

@Shangi-La. I guess everyone has their own interpretation of that post. I see it as a bitter reaction over the chain of events he helped start. Sympathy for his former swimmers? He has put his former UA swimmers in the difficult position of being loyal to the team they are currently a member of or to a former coach. Who does that? Then he creates huge drama and tries to sabotage their season with his rant to attack the administration. How is this showing sympathy for his former swimmers? Intentional or not his former swimmers became pawns in a battle they had nothing to do with. And now Robert Howard is without his coach months out from Trials. Rebel isn’t… Read more »

Opinions are opinions but why all the bad mouthing

Everyone here seems to be comparing Coley to Jonty, highlighting Jonty’s apparent bitterness. I think there is obviously validity to what Jonty believes and the concerns he has for his swimmers at Alabama. As a parent of an old Phoenix Swim Club swimmer the way Coley singled out athletes and verbally abused some of his athletes was well known. Swimmers like Rowan Hauber and Gunner Wolfe were two specific athletes who Coley would continue to tell how awful they were, how badly they sucked. How they should quit. This isn’t isolated. This was common place at Lake Oswego and Canyons. Coley was asked to leave Phoenix Swim Club and did everything in his power to divide the team into the… Read more »

Not Disappointed

@Opinions are opinions – “Everyone here seems to be comparing……”. What comments are you reading? Not sure there has actually been a single person much less everyone making this comparison. Yours is the first negative Coley comment, I’m guessing you were not on the Pro Coley side. Kind of hypocritical to question the bad mouthing and then participate in it.

Interesting

@Not disappointed.
Don’t lie, please. You know very well that you have heard “negative comments about Coley” on another Swimswam post” because YOU responded to them by defending Coley. Remember the post about Jack Blake?

Not Disappointed

If you read carefully I repeated the initial comment, “Everyone here…..”. “Here” is this comment section on this news article. Why would anyone assume otherwise?

Natas

Sounds like sour grapes a bit? Didn’t those two aforementioned swimmers follow Coley from LOSC to Phx? Why would they do that (why would their parents allow it) if he was verbally abusive? Did you personally ever hear or see him verbally abuse ( euphemism for hold accountable) anyone, or you only heard these accusations? Coley left Phx on his own volition because of the absolute nonsense you are claiming and went on to Canyons for the next 5-6 years and had unbelievable success with his swimmers, parents, and board members. I don’t see a Coley vs Jonty battle in any of these comments. I see a scorned man who distastefully took shots at Coley on a public forum and… Read more »

RTR

He still does… probably worse

Interesting

@Not disappointed and NATAs
Why are you so against Jonty? What has he done to you?

Doc

If you’ve read the comments the anti Jonty sentiment is clear. He engineered a smear campaign against his former team and their new head coach. That’s a good way to make enemies and can’t say I blame anyone for giving some payback. I didn’t see anybody going after Jonty until he went after Coley. If this isn’t an IU issue please keep them out of it.

Han shot first

If Stickels was as bad as you say he is why would 6 pros and 2 IU swimmers follow him? It’s unfortunate that whatever Jonty thought was going on was just not the case. I hope coaches would adhere to a level of professionalism and COACH rather than ensue your old program because one of your past swimmers got cut. Let’s grow up a little.

Samuli Hirsi

in finland we had high profile coach who was verbally abusing her athletes and was fired etc… half the team was behind half not, so were the parents….. we feel and see things differently……

Never missed a three. Ever.

Let’s be clear. This guy couldn’t throw it into the ocean from the beach, yet, claims to have beaten me one on one for ages. I’m 5’10” and took him to the hole so many times. Once… I nailed like 20 3-pointers in a row!! Made it rain on him.

Coach

I have a hard time believing that they would fire a coach for a Facebook rant. That just doesn’t make sense.

2 Cents

Really? In today’s society, people get fired left and right for what they post on social media. Now, I’m not saying that is what happened here, but I am never shocked to hear anyone was canned for a post they made.

SPS

Opinion and Rumor mill:
Was Jonty dragged into some Alabama backlash concerning Coley and former swimmers (that Jonty cared about)? Probably.
Did Jonty respond to a text message from former swimmers regarding his opinion of some actions of Coley at Alabama?Maybe.
Did Jonty want the head coaching job? Very doubtful – he’s been there, done that. My impression is that he is more interested in the science and the teaching than the politics and the management headaches.
Did the NCAA/IU suspend Jonty based upon “Recruiting violations” /violating policies?
Possibly.
If so, was this a motivating factor in Jonty’s early departure/retirement?
Most Likely.
Is Jonty an awesome guy and a great coach?
Yes.

Kyren

Please. Your argument falls flat on every level based on your own assertions. Jonty was not “dragged” into anything. He felt compelled to dig his nose into UA playing hero and had no right to make false accusations, particularly on a public forum. Jonty selfishly let down Bob, IU, and UA by his smear campaign against Coley and the administration. Why did he even care about UA when gainfully employed by IU? Jonty’s actions are hardly those of someone who is an “awesome guy and great coach.”

swimsplash

Imagine swimmers reaching out to you for HELP. What would you do? Wouldn’t you feel obligated to help the people who you have coached for years? The Jonty smear campaign is just sad. He’s a good man, a good swimmer, who decided to retire. Just leave it at that.

Doc

I am not aware of any coach really being dismissed for recruiting violations. In swimming most are minor and remedied with additional education or minor penalty. If it was major it would be real news. And a coach retiring wouldn’t eliminate the penalty against the school. I just don’t see why a veteran, well respected coach would choose to retire weeks before championship season and leave his team short handed at its most important time of the year.

Taa

Indiana swimming….a gift that keeps giving

I_Said_it

This wins the comment section

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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