In perhaps the final straw, or a sacrificial lamb of, the chaos that has ripped through Swimming Australia since last August, Leigh Nugent has been relieved of his duties as the Head Coach of the National Team, according to sources inside of Australian Swimming. A public announcement has yet to be made, though Nugent has been informed of the decision.
Nugent took over the role in March of 2010, after his predecessor Alan Thompson resigned amid some amount of controversy. Nugent’s tenure as the head of Swimming Australia started out rosy, with Libby Trickett crediting his appointment as one of her reasons to make a comeback for retirement.
Things quickly spiraled out of control, however, within the National Team ranks. False police reports, inappropriate Twitter pictures, and drug and alcohol abuse marred Nugent’s tenure, with reports finding that a general lack of accountability, discipline, and cohesion among National Team athletes led to a disappointing performance at the London Olympics, especially on the men’s side.
Things could get even worse for Nugent’s legacy, as Alicia Coutts is expected to speak before the newly-formed integrity panel about “inappropriate behavior by a male swimmer to a female teammate” committed at the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in January. This was the same meet at which Nugent introduced a new team behavioral protocol, which apparently was not well-applied on at least one member of the team.
This move will effectively give Swimming Australia a clean slate headed into the next Olympic cycle. Michael Scott is expected to be brought in from British Swimming as High Performance Director. Kevin Neill is out as CEO, being replaced by Barclay Nettlefold.