Minnesota “Head Men’s Coach” Dennis Dale Leaving Program

The University of Minnesota’s prior “Head Men’s Coach” Dennis Dale will no longer be with the program, the school told the team in a meeting on Tuesday.

Dale, who is the “Head Men’s Coach” under the umbrella of the program’s true head coach Kelly Kremer is a Minnesota alumni, having graduated in 1967, and has been the head of the men’s team since the 1985-1986 season. In his time, his men’s team has 7 Big Ten titles, including back-to-back wins in 2004 and 2005, and he has earned 6 Big Ten Coach of the Year awards.

Dale became the “Head Men’s Coach” after the men’s and women’s programs were combined at Minnesota following the 2010-2011 season under Kremer.

Though it’s not going to be a direct replacement, Minnesota plans to hand the reins to the men’s sprint group over to second-year assistant Steve Miller, who is a 2009 graduate of Minnesota. That’s a sprint group that Miller was once a part of while a four-time First Team All-American as an undergrad.

The sprint group is a hallmark of the Minnesota program, including Big Ten Champion Derek Toomey who was 4th at NCAA’s in the 50 free last weekend.

We were unable to confirm the exact nature of the separation between Dale and Minnesota (firing, retirement, resignation, etc.) and as of posting, Minnesota had not responded to multiple requests for comment.

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Dennis Dale completely turned around a program that was a joke in the early 80s! He played an integral part in that facility being built.

For all of his detractors…you will see that a lack of his presence in that program will be detrimental to Gopher Men’s program!


How about we wait and see?


I agree we wait and see. Dennis may have turned the program around in the 1980s, but it’s 2014 now. This brings some fresh air to the program which is greatly needed, especially if they’re to move up at B1Gs and NCAAs. There hasn’t been a conference title in MN on the men’s side since 2007, but the women have won three in a row. Kelly Kramer is obviously doing something right there. Consider the fact that Dale has taken a backseat role these past few years with coaching anyway, especially since Steve Miller was hired in 2012. Miller has been assisting at that school since 2009 and I believe the program is in perfectly capable hands. He’s young, energized,… Read more »


You’re dreamin’. All due respect, but Steve Miller is no Dennis Dale. And it seems like Dennis’ sprinters have been the only ones “getting it done” since Kramer took over the men. It just wreaks of unprofessionalism the way this was handled. No respect for a man that not only touched so many lives, but also helped them swim fast. Again, whether it was time or not, he deserved a celebration, not a firing. And we won’t even begin to talk about the lack of loyalty Kramer & Minnesota is showing. I predict no Big 10 titles in the future and with Toomey & Van Swol graduating, a legendary coach & biggest supporter disrespected, alumni alienated, an unproven “kid” taking… Read more »


Being a former u swimmer, it pains me to see Dennis go, but it is time to move on. The program has been irrelevant since 2007, which is when Kelly’s last recruits from his first stint with the men’s team filtered through. Once Kelly left to coach the women’s team, they went back to recruiting Minnesota and Wisconsin kids, sure they could coach them up, but there was not enough talent to be relevant. It’s too bad the way it all happened, as an alum, I’m sad to see him go, but I know in the long run it will all be for the best. Kelly is one of the best college coaches in the nation, he made the men’s… Read more »


As a parent of one those untalented Wisconsin/Minnesota kids I take exception to your comment.. The 200 free relay placed 13th at Ncaa with 2 swimmers from Wi one from Mn and the other from Co, three of them are freshman.

Gopher Alum

This comment is directed to Go4Swimmer

I echo the opinion of Goldt50Free…

I am a Gopher alum from the era post 2007. And your comments about the lack of talent disrespects the team members of my era. Aren’t we ALL Gophers? Please note the next time you are in the natatorium that most of our school records were swum by swimmers NOT recruited by Kelly.


I never said the kids from Minnesota and Wisconsin weren’t talented, I said there aren’t enough of them. When Kelly coached the men’s team 15 years ago and ran the recruiting, they were recruiting nationwide. Still recruiting talented swimmers, just way more of them. It was the best hire Dennis ever made, when Kelly left, that pretty much stopped. There just aren’t enough kids to make a successful team. And don’t talk to me about records, new technology, rule changes brought down a TON of records, so the records being post 2007 is irrelevant. Yes, we are all Gophers and we all hope for the best, this is for the best, you will see soon.


Chlorinated, FACT #1 – the current team did NOT take this well! FACT #2 – the B1G conference for the women is not near as strong as the mens. Just look at the team standings for NCAAs and count the number of top 10 from the B1G schools on the mens side vs the women. FACT #3 – since this is 2014 and Dennis is supposedly not doing a good job any more, go back and look at the scoring from the B1G meet and NCAA meet this year…over 80% of the points (maybe even higher) came directly from the athletes under Dennis’ direction. FACT #4 – since Kelley was given the role of Head Coach over both programs, he… Read more »


To all of you: I get it, I’ve been there. I swam for him and I know how it all works. And I know that in recent years the sprint group has been Dennis AND Steve. Each coach plays a role in the development of a swimmer and a lot of the energy and expertise has come from Steve. Without Dennis of course there may be an initial step back, but it’s not two steps. My 1980-2014 point was to consider how much swimming has changed in the last 30 years. Times are getting quicker and training styles are changing. I personally didn’t find Dennis as one for embracing change, sorry if maybe you did. Now was he still doing… Read more »

Gopher Alum

Chlorinated, Just to note, after Kelly left, the men didn’t have Top 10 finishes from ’05-’09, they were only Top 11 finishes (with 2 Big 10 titles). The next two years were a 14th and a 15th (2 future NCAA champions transferring didn’t help). Since Kelly’s return, the men have finished 24th, 18th, and this past week 22nd. In fact, since Kelly took over in ’05, the women have only 3 Top 10 finishes, none higher than 9th. Minnesota has been pretty much in the same NCAA finish for 20 years, 16 years with Kelly. So I’d hesitate to say much is going to change with or without Dennis. But after Dennis built this program, he deserved more than to… Read more »


Amen. These hit the nail on the head. I think Steve is fully capable of the job and has done a fantastic job at Minnesota. The program is more than lucky to have such a stand up guy.

It’s a fact that at some point, Dennis had to leave the program, but the way the situation was handled was extremely unfortunate. While none of us know the full truth behind what happened, I would’ve always hoped for someone who built the program from the bottom up would get the utmost respect he deserves.


Dennis Dale has done a lot of great things for the Golden Gophers and he should be celebrated for all of his accomplishments. However, it’s a good time for a change and it seems like the remaining coaching staff, with the lead of Kelly Kremer, will be able to bring that program to a new level.


I wonder how the men’s team reacted.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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