Mike Kotch Out As Brandeis University Head Coach

Brandeis University coach Mike Kotch is no longer a part of the school’s swimming & diving program, Brandeis says. A local newspaper reports that Kotch had been put on administrative leave following a human resources investigation.

Kotch had been the program’s head coach for five seasons. He was actually hired in the summer of 2011, taking over a Division III program that had been suspended due to mechanical issues with the school’s pool facility. The program was resurrected with Kotch at the helm for the 2012-2013 season.

His name no longer appears on the team’s coaching page, with “TBA” listed in the head coaching role. A Brandeis representative said Kotch is “no longer with the University,” but couldn’t give any more detail.

But local paper The Brandeis Hoot reports that Kotch was placed on administrative leave in May, pending the results of a human resources investigation. That story cites an email from acting athletic director Jim Zotz to the swim team, noting that Kotch had been placed on administrative leave. The Brandeis Hoot story also quotes several anonymous sources who say swimmers reached out to administration to complain about “unprofessional conduct” by Kotch in the past.

Brandeis recently fired basketball coach Brian Meehan based on complaints about his conduct and allegations that he made racially-charged remarks to his players. The Brandeis Hoot report says that that incident brought “formal investigators” to Brandeis, and that swimmers reached out to those investigators to complain about Kotch, though swimmers reference in the Brandeis Hoot‘s report say Kotch’s behavior was “not on the same scale as the whole basketball coach situation.”

More specifically, a letter drafted by the swim team as a group complained that Kotch would make inappropriate remarks about athlete’s weights, that it was “tradition” for the team’s coaches to go out drinking while the team was on training trip and that “while intoxicated, Kotch messaged the swim team group chat making fun of a person who had recently been kicked off the team,” according to The Brandeis Hoot.

The school didn’t have any further information on whether Kotch resigned or was fired, and would only say that they hoped to be able to announce a replacement soon.

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From the linked article: “The swimmers who spoke to The Hoot are optimistic about the search process for their coach’s replacement. Members of the team will be able to give input on the candidates once the search pool has been narrowed. ”

Yes, I’m sure coaches are going to be lining up around the corner to coach a group of kids who banded together to oust the previous coach and now get to play a role in hiring the new one. Who is running things over there? The students or the administration?


Not sure they “banded together” without cause. They were prompted to come forward when it was clear there were issues with coach behavior within their athletic department. Maybe they collectively realized that the behavior was not something to be written off, that they might deserve a coach who doesn’t display the behavior they experienced (especially D3 athletes who are participating for nothing but the experience). As bad as the situation looks at Brandeis, I think we can all agree that this is for the better, right? Would you send your son/daughter to swim there (and pay tuition) if the coach was doing what was disclosed?


What do you mean by ‘especially D3 athletes’ and ‘nothing but the experience’


As stated, Division III athletes are, for the most part, participating in the sport for the experience of it. They don’t receive athletic scholarship or special academic treatment. In my view, the athletic department/coaches work for the athletes, not the other way around. If athletes aren’t pleased with the environment or behavior of their coaches they should have a voice in the change.


Hoping there are other reasons for firing coaches other than “the coach was mean to me” by 0-4 year old adults.


I think the coach drinking with the team is a reason to fire a coach. It’s inappropriate and an all around bad idea. If there was some sort of emergency, you would need a sober coach and being intoxicated around your athletes opens yourself up as a coach to accusations of inappropriate advances, etc. Doing this shows poor judgment.


I could be mistaken but I read that as the coaching staff going out for drinks during a training camp, not drinking with the swimmers. Big difference. Texting the swimmers while intoxicated is not appropriate but if going out for drinks during a meet or a training camp were a fireable offense, half of the coaches in NCAA and USA Swimming would be out of work.


Did the team leadership seek to confer with the coach about their concerns? Did they speak to him PRIOR to talking to administrators? Did they say up front that their voicing their concerns was not effective, and that they would then speak to the higher-ups being up-front about it? Brandeis once ostracized a veteran tenured professor because the professor used a tern “wetbacks” in a class on Latin-American Relations that a student deemed “offensive” and instead of confronting the professor, reported it to authorities. I don’t believe the issue was ever resolved. This at an institution whose namesake was a staunch defender of the First Amendment.


I don’t think a letter full of accusations signed by anonymous swimmers should be given much consideration. Is that what the world is coming to?

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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