NCAA Division I program UNC Wilmington has terminated head swimming & diving coach Jason Memont this week. While head diving coach Beau Bunn and assistant coach Keary McClernan are still listed on the site, another assistant coach Valtteri Halonen is no longer listed either.
“We have made a change in the leadership and direction of our program,” a spokesperson told SwimSwam on Wednesday. The school says that a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
Memont was the head coach of the program for 6 seasons after spending 7 years as an assistant coach at South Carolina.
In 2019, the UNCW men finished 2nd out of 5 teams at the CAA Championships while the women placed 6 out of 7 teams. In total, the teams combined to win 6 CAA titles last season, with 3 of those coming from divers. All but one of those title-winners, senior Will Countie who won the men’s 100 backstroke, will return next season. Both of the divers who won conference titles were freshmen, including CAA Diver of the Year Kolbein Bjugan.
UNCW Conference Champions, 2019-2020 Season
- Evan Arsenault – Women’s 50 free
- Kolbein Bjugan – men’s 1 meter, men’s 3 meter
- Gianmichel D’Alessandro – men’s 100 breast
- Will Countie – men’s 100 back
- Courtney Klausen – women’s 1 meter
Hallonen is a graduate of UNCW and joined the program as a coach in the fall of 2016, serving a total of 4 seasons as head coach. He is credited as having worked closely with the conference champions D’Alessandro and Countie. Hallonen, a native of Finland, broke UNCW school records in both the 100 and 200 backstroke as a swimmer. He was a part of four-straight conference championship teams at UNCW.
In 2013, shortly before Memont took over as head coach, the school considered dropping its swimming & diving programs. Ultimately, the school decided to not cut any sports, and in the interim the program has done significant work, especially with the help of former head coach Dave Allen, to grow an endowment for the program.
The fact that the school has begun a search for a replacement head coach assuages concerns over the future of the program during a time where collegiate sports programs are in danger due to the budget constraints of the global coronavirus pandemic.