Kentucky Head Swim Coach Lars Jorgensen Resigns Amid Reported Investigation

One week after SwimSwam reported that Lars Jorgensen had been suspended since early May pending an NCAA investigation into compliance rules violations, the Kentucky head swim coach resigned Wednesday after more than a decade in Lexington.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart released a brief statement declaring a “national search for a new head coach.”

The official press release simply said Jorgensen has served as head coach since 2013 and also was an assistant coach the year before his promotion. It neglected to mention any of his accolades, such as SEC Coach of the Year in 2021 for leading the Wildcat women to their first conference title ever. This past season, freshman distance specialist Levi Sandidge became the Wildcats’ first-ever SEC champion in the men’s 1650-yard freestyle.

Jorgensen’s legal representation issued a release referring to the coach’s departure from the school as the two “reaching an agreement resolving amicably the issues” between Jorgensen and the University of Kentucky.

“I have enjoyed my tenure at University of Kentucky,” Jorgensen said. “I’ll miss the athletes and the success we have had together.”

According to a source close to the program, the entire Wildcats swim coaching staff was suspended for one week at the start of May. Inconveniently, the team was not informed of the issues with their coaching staff until May 1, the day after the transfer portal closed for women’s swimmers on April 30.

Assistant coaches Jordan LiebermanGeena Freriks, and Bailey Bonnett are now back on deck with Kentucky Aquatics, but associate head coach Michael Camper stepped down after five seasons. Camper did not respond to SwimSwam’s requests for comment, but his LinkedIn profile indicates he recently took a new job outside of the swimming world as a territory manager for Gardner Inc., a lawn equipment distributor.

The source also told SwimSwam that Jorgensen’s latest violations were not his first offense. According to the source, he was also suspended for the Wildcats’ SEC opener at Texas A&M last November, but did not inform the team of the true reason for his absence.

As a swimmer, Jorgensen set program records at the University of Tennessee and went on to represent the U.S. at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. He has also held the record for the Ironman World Championships for nearly two decades with a swimming split of 46:41.

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Survivor 1
6 months ago

I had a very bad experience with Lars. It was extremely inappropriate and unsafe and I am really concerned about it happening to someone else in the future because I know I’m not alone. I’m working with a group of attorneys/lawyers who specialize in my case for support and help considering the best paths to accountability, meaningful reform, and protecting others. If you need support or want to be part of that conversation, you can reach out to us at [email protected].

Eff Fa fa
7 months ago

The fact that there hasn’t been a hire is quite concerning. Either, no one wants the job. Or there’s more to the allegations against Lars and company, and candidates aren’t applying. The handling of this entire thing has been a huge botch by Mitch Barnhart.

Classes start in less than a month. And practice starts not long after that. A new coach will still have to hire a new staff, get a system in place, and develop a rapport with their (inherited) student athletes. It gives little to no chance for students to pursue other opportunities, should they not fit the new coach’s coaching style. The Lars allegations will leave a huge lasting impact and stain on the UK program.

Reply to  Eff Fa fa
7 months ago

It’s quite possible that there has been a hire, or at least a decision on a hire, and it just hasn’t been announced yet.

Nobody has told me if there has been, though.

7 months ago

Not a peep since 6/28. Is the investigation ongoing or being covered up?

UK Issues Continue
7 months ago

Attention Moderator…Just found out that the portal has been open 21 days without notification to the current swimmers on the team and will only be open for 9 more days. Where is the communication, transparency, trust, and leadership? Who is advocating for these athletes?

7 months ago

When my daughter was being recruited by Lars, I found him professional and always upfront and honest. He never crossed any lines and when my daughter called him to decline the UK offer he was gracious and has been cordial on the pool when she saw him. Understand things can be different after signing, and if things were off the rails then quite disappointing for the team. Wishing good things for the aquatic athletes impacted.

8 months ago

“Inconveniently, the team was not informed of the issues with their coaching staff until May 1, the day after the transfer portal closed for women’s swimmers on April 30.” – Wow, the problem is bigger than just the coach. This is not how you treat your athletes, and without changes further upstream in the athletic department I think the university should worry that all their athletes will pay attention to how these swimmers were treated.

Bama Slama
Reply to  Keenan
8 months ago

they can transfer now though

Reply to  Bama Slama
8 months ago

Sure, however, attempting to manipulate the timing of the situation is not a good look for admin…

8 months ago

What does this mean for Ted Hautau, the UK Diving coach? Will he be ousted too?

Reply to  DiveMomx2
8 months ago

Diving Coach coming and going often is independent of what happens with the swim staff. There are a few instances where a new incoming head coach changes philosophy on resources going to the diving program or just a simple personality conflict that leads to a change, but it’s not the almost automatic departure like we see for swimming assistants.

Current DI Diving Coach
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

Diving coach positions are not independent of swim staff. On paper about 95% of us are “assistant swim coaches” and report directly to the head swim coach. It is entirely up to the new swim coach to keep or not keep the diving coach. Sometimes results of a diving coach don’t matter either.

Reply to  DiveMomx2
8 months ago

Ted will more than likely be retained (should he choce to stay). Quality Diving coaches are hard to come by and he’s been successful.

the rest of the staff… well….

8 months ago

I would not be surprised to see Martyn Wilby throw his hat in the ring for this job. He’s no longer at Swimming Canada, few coaches can compete with his resume, and this is his alma mater.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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