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

  93 Braden Keith | April 02nd, 2014 | Big Ten, College, Featured, News

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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93 Comments on "Minnesota “Head Men’s Coach” Dennis Dale Leaving Program"

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2 years 3 months ago

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!

2 years 3 months ago

How about we wait and see?

2 years 3 months ago

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, and it’s time he got his shot.

2 years 3 months ago

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 over the sprint reigns. Tell me why on earth you would sign at Minnesota.

2 years 3 months ago

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 team relevant once before and will do it again. And yes, he, not dennis is the reason the team was relevant 10-15 years ago. Who do you think recruited all those kids from all over the place to come swim in Minnesota?

2 years 3 months ago

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
2 years 3 months ago

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.

2 years 3 months ago

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.

2 years 3 months ago


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 has spent the overwhelming majority of time with the post-grad women making them his priority and then the current women. Dennis was REDUCED to a back seat role and thus the program suffered.

Kyler Van Swol and Derek Toomey were the last recruits that Dennis was heavily involved in…I think they’re pretty good.

Dennis deserved a whole hell of a lot better treatment than he was given! Steve Miller is a good guy…but Dennis has had amazing success with that sprint…it is definitely not a step up as a replacement. Steve will really struggle with any of the athletes that were coached by Dennis, the comparisons will never go away for him.

2 years 3 months ago

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 a good job coaching? Sure. Was he still successful? Sure. But it’s not going to kill the program to see him leave. He had to leave eventually, he’s not going to coach forever.

Conference strength, NCAA strength, it doesn’t really matter; a ring is a ring and you do what you need to do to get it. I agree ousting Dennis like this may not have been the best way to do it, especially given his accomplishments and success, but I do have faith in Kelly and what he’s doing. I’m with G04SWIMMER on this one. Kelly worked with the men from 98-04, there were titles in 01,02,04 and top 10 NCAA finishes 01-05. He can recruit and he can coach. The men haven’t been back to those numbers since Kelly left. (I will agree he does spend too much time on his postgrads though.)

The combining of the programs in 2011 was to increase funding, lighten the workload on Dennis, and to put Kelly back with the men again. Now consider a lightened workload and a young sprint assistant for the old guy who’s been in the game a long time…that is the reduced, backseat role.

Yes this was all handled poorly, but let’s stop bashing the future of the program. If we really are all Gophers we should hope for the best and time will tell. You’re still giving MN football a chance, right?

Gopher Alum
2 years 3 months ago


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 be kicked to the curb? It makes you wonder who’s next – Terry???

This is so embarrassing.

2 years 3 months ago

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.

2 years 3 months ago

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.

2 years 3 months ago

I wonder how the men’s team reacted.

2 years 3 months ago

This is not by choice. Dennis Dale deserved better than firing. Especially when he just coached an 18.9 sprinter at NCAA’s. Shocked that this is how Kramer thanks the guy that groomed him for the position. What a classless move.

2 years 3 months ago

Dennis Dale was an integral role of the success to the MN Swimming and Diving Program. It will be sad to see him go. His passion, humor, wit, and knowledge will be greatly missed on the pool deck!

Dan Anderson
2 years 3 months ago

Dennis Dale is a class act. He is a fine man who has coached men to great things both in the pool and in life. He will be missed.

2 years 3 months ago

Steve Miller holds high expectations for his Men’s Sprint Group to fulfill for this next upcoming season, however, Kelly did not need to make Dennis Dale leave the program. This man has been here since 1985 and only proven to be an asset to this team. He has been able to produce many men who have shown contributions to Big Ten’s and NCAA’s for Minnesota. In fact, he has probably led his swimmers to more moments of success than Coach Ryan Purdy or Coach Kelly Kremer. I think the vibe and environment Dennis Dale created will have been lost. Bad idea on Minnesota’s Swimming part.

2 years 3 months ago

I think Steve Miller holds high expectations for his Men Sprint Group, however, Coach Kelly Kremer’s actions were unprofessional towards Dennis Dale. Coach Dale was an asset to this team since 1985, and has lead his swimmers to success at Big Ten’s and the NCAA championships. His success is greater than that of contributions from Coach Ryan Purdy or Coach kremer. For what Coach Dennis Dale has done for the University of Minnesota Swim Team Kremer has shown disrespect towards his faculty and swimmers. My apologizes go out to the Men’s Sprint Group and Coach Dennis Dale. The environment and atmosphere of sarcasm, wisdom, and humor will be missed.

2 years 3 months ago

I think Steve Miller holds high expectations for his Men Sprint Group, however, Coach Kelly Kremer’s actions were unprofessional towards Dennis Dale. Coach Dale was an asset to this team since 1985, and has lead his swimmers to success at Big Ten’s and the NCAA championships. His success is greater than that of contributions from Coach Ryan Purdy or Coach kremer. For what Coach Dennis Dale has done for the University of Minnesota Swim Team Kremer has shown disrespect towards his faculty and swimmers. My apologizes go out to the Men’s Sprint Group and Coach Dennis Dale. The environment and atmosphere of sarcasm, wisdom, and humor will be missed.

2 years 3 months ago

Not the way I imagined the fairietale ending… Numerous championships, loyal alumni, and out of the blue this happens!?!

2 years 3 months ago

The notion the Steve Miller is “entitled” to replace Dennis Dale is naive and unrealistic. Steve has two years of paid coaching experience. That minimal level of experience would not merit a second look for a head coaching job at most Division II programs, let alone entitling one to replace the most successful swimming coach in Minnesota history. In fact, it isn’t fair to Steve to suggest that he is a replacement for Dennis. When Dennis was first hired at Minnesota, he had already served for 13 years as the head swimming coach at Burnsville High School. Under Dennis’ direction, Burnsville went from mediocrity (at best) to win four state high school championships, three girls’ titles and one boys’ title. Dennis was named high school coach of the year four times while at Burnsville. Even before his stint at Burnsville, Dennis had proved himself to be an incredibly successful coach. After his military service (yes, Dennis is a vet too), he coached De La Salle high school for three years. Under Dennis’s direction, De La Salle became the best high school team in Minnesota.

So, when Dennis first took control of the Gopher team, he had far more experience and far more success than Steve. You can’t buy this type of success; you actually have to earn it. But the truth is, the removal of Dennis isn’t about Steve, it’s about the inadequacy of leadership of those above Dennis. You see, when a manager inherits a highly successful, self-directed, hard working employee who has been making the University look good for 25 years, the inability of that manager to take advantage of the situation is the fault of the manager, not the highly successful employee. Dennis’s removal represents a gross inability to lead. It’s especially telling that Dennis has worked under a number of other supervisors within the athletic department for all those years, all of whom were able to let Dennis work his magic.

But, what would one expect from an athletic department that just finished paying off an assistant coach (in a different sport) that was hired and then fired within the space of a few weeks, all because her romantic interests didn’t satisfy the head coach. Was anyone in the administration of the athletic department held accountable for this travesty? Well, of course not.

As for Kelly Kremer, there is little doubt that he is a good swimming coach. That said, Dennis had already done the hard work of bringing the Gophers from the bottom of the Big Ten in 1986 when he first arrived to winning its first Big Ten title in 70 years in 1996. The gophers won their second Big Ten title in 1998, the year Kremer joined the men’s coaching staff as an assistant coach under Dennis. Thus, the first two Big Ten titles can’t really be attributed to Kremer. The men’s team won two more titles after Kremer joined the women’s team and no longer worked with the men. So, Minnesota’s incredible rise to the top tier of the Big Ten simply can’t be attributed to Kremer. The gopher’s ability to remain competitive in the Big Ten similarly can’t be attributed to Kremer. Kremer just isn’t responsible for making Minnesota relevant in swimming; Dennis is.

The one thing that certainly can be attributed to Kremer is the University’s sudden inability to take advantage of the best sprint coach in the Big Ten, if not country; something the University had managed to do from 1986 until 2011, at which point Kremer became the ostensible leader of both the men’s and women’s teams.

What all of this suggests is a manager or managers that didn’t understand that the Gopher swim team wasn’t their personal play ground. Instead, it’s a public trust that belongs to the State of Minnesota and its swimming community. This incident represents a gross violation of that trust.

I wasn’t the best college swimmer in the world. But, I managed to place at the Big Ten meet and have followed the team for my entire adult life. It pains me to say that until the University makes amends, it and the swimming program are dead to me.

2 years 3 months ago


Well spoken…your statements are 100% accurate. The only thing I would add is that when Dennis took over the program at the U – it was a complete joke…only Dennis could have been able to turn that ship around. People don’t remember that Ernie Maglisco and Dennis were the two finalists for the job…and considering all the success that Ernie had at Bakersfield…people were surprised that Dennis got the job. Eventually Ernie got the ASU…and that didn’t go so well. Dennis’ tenacity and consistency turned that program around.

Just look at the assistant coaches that he has had and the success that they have enjoyed after their time at Minnesota…Dave Anderson (Schroeder) and Clark Campbell (KU) just to name 2! Hard to imagine their time with Dennis didn’t influence some of their current success.

Steve Miller will eventually be the same…I know he liked Dennis alot, but he will have a tough time the first two years.

2 years 3 months ago

As a former swimmer at the U of M I find this appalling. Dennis is a wonderful human being who I have nothing but admiration for.Dennis’s life revolved around the swim team and it’s sad to see this is the way his chapter closes. You will be missed Dennis.

2 years 3 months ago

To all of you affiliated with the program (swimmers, alumni, parents, fans), please consider that this forum will live on past your initial reactions to the events of the last few days.

Dennis, thank you for your contribuitions to the University of Minnestota, the aquatics program and my development as both a swimmer and person.

Rob Schnitzler – Class of 2011

2 years 3 months ago

It’s easy to have an opinion when you aren’t involved, and may not even know anyone on the team anymore. It’s even easier to put that opinion up on an internet message board under a pseudonym that you can change if anyone calls you out.

I’m not ashamed to say that I respect the hell out of Dennis Dale. I am a coach now, and find myself using his techniques almost daily. His daily attitude and his passion for the sport and for his athletes continues to inspire me. Thank you Dennis for all you have done for me, and for the rest of the Gopher alumni.

Despite my respect for Dennis, and my confusion about the way this was handled, Kelly and the rest of the staff are not “dead to me” to use the words of an anonymous commenter above. Neither am I going to drag the name of a new coach through the mud just because he will be running the sprint group. Comparisons are inevitable and nobody can replace Dennis, but there is a lot of talent and passion on that staff, and I see bright things for the future of Minnesota swimming.

Russell Payne – 2008

2 years 3 months ago

Of all the comments here, Rob’s words are the truest.

Programs can only succeed if the athletes trust their coaches. I trusted Dennis and I trusted Steve.

I, too, would like to thank Dennis for helping me become the swimmer I was and the person I am.

If I were on the team now, I would have no doubt that Steve is a trustworthy coach whose ideas and energy are only going to do good things for the sprinters. Let’s remember those kids who are on the team now and make sure that they get the support they need to keep Minnesota strong.

Mike Richards – Class of 2011

2 years 3 months ago

Rob definitely has it right.

We can all continue to speculate on how the situation got to where it has, but chances are nobody writing comments on this forum actually knows.

Having been coached by Dennis myself, I can tell you he cared about nothing more than the upmost success of his athletes. The thing I respect Dennis the most for was his capacity to actually coach, provide feedback, and genuinely care about every one of his athletes regardless of ability.

I have no doubt that his group is in good hands with Steve, and I wish them all the best of luck.

Phil Greenberg – Class of 2011

Meg & Dave
2 years 3 months ago

It’s apparent from all the comments above that everyone is very passionate about the University of Minnesota Swimming and Diving program — as we all should be. The accomplishments and successes of this program spread far and wide, and have had the dedication and help from a variety of individuals [coaches, swimmers, divers, aquatics staff members, athletic administrators] — in maintaining that high level of success.

Please be considerate of the true values, relationships, and life lessons you have taken away from the program when posting your comments for all to see, and be mindful that its always best to stay positive and reflect upon ‘the good’ in the face of slight adversity and change.

Dennis, thank you for your incomparable coaching style. Your legacy, humor, and wit will live on in all those that you touched and impacted. We all have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to not only swim, but grow as men and women under you. We have nothing but the utmost respect for you, and will miss seeing you on the pool deck!

Kelly, Terry, Steve, Purdy, & Wenbo — thank you for your continued inspiration, dedication, and pride in the Maroon & Gold. We are excited to continue to follow, support, and cheer on the team from the stands (or from our desks at work — boo!).

Best of luck to Steve as he starts this new chapter in his coaching career! You will be great.

Go Gophers,

Meg Braun — 2011
David Hawker — 2011

2 years 3 months ago

Dennis Dale is a great coach and a better man. When I was young, it was my goal to compete for the University of Minnesota. I’m proud to say that I got to fulfill that dream. I will always remember how approachable and instructive Dennis was when I swam there. You could always talk to Dennis about anything. I remember getting valuable advice about how to improve my technique and having great conversations with him each spring about who he thought was going to win The Masters. Dennis is just that kind of a guy. I continue to wish him the best and can’t thank him enough for the impact he had on my swimming career and life.

Andy Knaak – Class of 2012

2 years 3 months ago

Additionally, Steve Miller is a good man and I wish him the best of luck going forward.

2 years 3 months ago

Well said. Having worked with Dennis for 18 years on a daily basis I know the many outstanding contributions he has made to the Mens program and that is the way I will chose to remember his leadership of the Gophers ! Jim andersen

Mike Zechmeister
2 years 3 months ago

I would personally like to thank Dennis for all he has done for Minnesota swimming for the past 4+ decades. As the first swimmer that Dennis signed to join him at the U, I can say that I have been a part of and followed Dennis’ journey since the beginning. Dennis is a great coach, a great mentor and a great friend. The life lessons that I learned from Dennis transcend anything that I never learned or did in the pool. For all of that, I cannot thank Dennis enough and hope that I get a chance to get together with all who feel the same way to properly celebrate his career.

As a loyal Gopher, I think it is also very important to me that we all continue to support the program in the ways that we do best. I for one will continue to do that to the best of my ability. To the extent that folks are upset about what has unfolded, my hope is that all will find a path forward that is constructive and fully supportive of the program.

Best of luck to the team and coaches. I will be rooting for all of you!

Mike Zechmeister
Gopher Swimming, 1985-1989

2 years 3 months ago


Please post on FB when a retirement party will be for Dennis and I will definitely fly up from NM for it!

Gopher Alum
2 years 3 months ago


That is what I am so upset about and why all of you “Thanking Dennis” and praising him should be mad as hell if that’s really how you feel about the man. And Mr. Zechmeister, you are the worst! How can you honor Dennis with your words of praise and then encourage everyone to forgive the atrocious way his career was forced to end? So it’s “Thanks old man, hit the road. Go Gophers!” I’m sure Dennis appreciates the respect you are showing him.

Why am I the only one that thinks he deserves a more honorable way to cap his career?

I’m with FORMERGOPHER. Minnesota Swimming is dead to me. GO BLUE!!!

2 years 3 months ago

I had the honor of being a freshman on the team the year Dennis started coaching at Minnesota. It has been a pleasure to see his legacy develop over the last 30 years and a simple posting here cannot begin to describe the countless contributions he has made to the program–they are indisputable and I would like to congratulate him for all he has accomplished. I look forward to opportunities to properly honor and celebrate Dennis and all his accomplishments in the coming months.

On a personal note I want to thank Dennis as he deserves all the credit for everything I ever accomplished as a swimmer and, to a great extent, how I have developed as a person–for that I am very thankful. This marks the end of a truly special era for Minnesota Swimming.

Thank you for everything Dennis and I hope to talk soon,
Dan Egeland ’89

2 years 3 months ago

Dennis Dale is a legend, He is, will be, and was one of the greatest people and coaches to work in the NCAA. His dedication and reputation precedes him as a pioneer for the University of Minnesota Athletic program. He should be honored for all of his hard work and his contribution to the University of Minnesota. Dennis, as a former Gopher alum, I wish you the best in your future and you will never be forgotten!

Dennis, we all love you, and you have done an amazing job!

The new head coach, Steve Miller was one of Dennis’ greatest athletes. He is someone who is a perfect fit to fill Dennis’ shoes. It will be tough, but he is respected among the coaches, peers, and alum. I wish the best of luck to Steve in his future endeavors!

We will miss you Dennis and as always, GO GOPHERS!!

Curt Carlson-2011

2 years 3 months ago

Maybe we could all be so lucky and Hite is removed from Wisco and Dennis will take the helm and bring some class and dignity back to the Badgers??

Goph4er fan
2 years 3 months ago

Better dead then red.

2 years 3 months ago

To my fellow Gopher swimmers past and present, as well as non-Gophers that swam for Dennis Dale on the various USS and AAU teams he coached, I am sorry if the strong feelings I and a few others have expressed here are unsettling. I too deeply appreciate the contribution Dennis has made to my life through swimming. But, I am unable find solace by writing a few heartfelt compliments, however sincere those sentiments may be. Instead, I find myself disturbed and angry, because the one person who should be able to feel good about his time at the University doesn’t. Although I know that Dennis appreciates the accolades poured forth here, he doesn’t feel good about what has happened to him or the future of the team. In fact, Dennis feels like the University has urinated all over his career, a career that he was not yet ready to end. And from Dennis’s perspective, that is just what has happened.

With that in mind, I find some of the cheery sentiments expressed here disquieting.
While it’s true Dennis couldn’t coach forever, shouldn’t the decision to stop have been left to him, at least while he was still performing at a high level? Isn’t it appalling that a career of such accomplishment could be called into question by the subtle insinuation that the University removal of Dennis carries with it? Isn’t it equally appalling that the University couldn’t manage to find a way to handle this gracefully? Isn’t it disturbing that the remaining coaches at the university will likely enjoy a salary increase when Dennis is replaced by a less experienced and thus lower paid assistant coach? Can this disturbing behavior be made less pernicious by uttering a few panglossian bromides about the bright future that lies ahead for the team? Isn’t the right thing to do to identify this behavior and call it what is?

Finally, let me say clearly that I did not intend to denigrate Steve Miller in any way. And I tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to make it clear that any comparison of experience really wasn’t fair to Steve. My intent was simply to make it clear that if someone is entitled to a coaching position at the University, it’s Dennis.

P.S. Greg, my guess is that the Badgers need only ask.

Go goph!
2 years 3 months ago

People like you make this worse for Dennis. You being angry is not going to change a thing or help him. Also, you obviously only know one side of the story. Celebrate the man.

Chris Dale
2 years 3 months ago

Go Goph:

If you think that FormerGopher doesn’t understand how Dennis feels about what happened, or that Dennis would like some sort feel-good “celebration” of his life on this page, I suggest you give him a call and ask him. (But, if you really count yourself as a friend, and would like to maintain that friendship, you may want to ignore this suggestion).

As to whether FormerGopher is making it worse for Dennis, I doubt it. I can only assume that you don’t actually know Dennis very well and/or have never known anyone who has had their professional career trashed like this, or you wouldn’t have said FormerGopher is making it worse.

As for knowing both sides of the story, the University isn’t talking as far as I can tell. No doubt the athletic department will insist that it can’t talk about this matter for privacy reasons. Knowing one side is better than knowing nothing.

Finally, you might want to read FormerGopher’s first comment. It seems to me that FormerGopher holds Dennis in high esteem and has a fairly detailed understanding of his accomplishments.

2 years 3 months ago

I have to say, I respect everyone leaving great comments about Dennis’ legacy and all he has done for them along with their names and years, that is so great to see – Funny how someone with the largest posts and non-“disquieting” opinions isn’t brave enough to share any correlation with the program.

Thank you to everyone in this forum who truly continues to honor the program – I am proud to call myself a Gopher alum and I will continue to respect and cheer on the Gophers. Dennis, you have touched so many lives and it will not be forgotten throughout the years to come.

2 years 3 months ago


While I appreciate the cleaver irony of your posting – an anonymous poster complaining about the anonymity of a different anonymous poster – I’m not sure that everyone will get it. On the off-chance the some readers took your post seriously, let me make a few observations.

The authors of comments that are entirely sunshine and light have no real reason to worry about the consequences of their comments. Hence, their lack of anonymity is to be expected. Those commentators saying critical things about the University or Dennis may actually have reasons to be concerned about consequences (if nothing more than other’s opinions of the author might be diminished). Hence, their anonymity is to be expected. LoyalFormerGopher’s comment is a totally ironic illustration of this point.

LoyalFormerGopher’s implication that FomerGopher may not have a connection with the University swimming program (i.e., not qualified to comment) is also part of the irony. No one commenting here has any “special authority” to comment on this situation. What the commentators have is a connection to Dennis through swimming. I assume everyone is aware that the universe of people connected to Dennis through swimming is much broader than simply current or former University swimmers who swam under Dennis at the University. After all, he started coaching in 1970 and he coached high school, AAU or USS swimmers since that time.

2 years 3 months ago

What’s with the eulogies people? HeavyD is still alive. I am with Go Gophs! celebrate the man.

As for the other side of the story- Dennis was a great coach- no arguing that. But, he should have been the wiser man and realized that his time has passed. He should have retired celebrated, rather then force all that involved to make the decision for him. The fact of the matter is that Dennis has been doing what’s best for Dennis for quite some time, not what’s best for UMN Swimming.

Gopher Alum
2 years 3 months ago

So Dennis coaching the first Big 10 swimmer to break 19.00 LAST THURSDAY is what’s best for Dennis or what’s best for the Gopher team? I’m confused?

2 years 3 months ago

I think those writing “eulogies” for Dennis are simply respecting him and appreciating all he has done. They are not focusing on what has happened this past week, they are focusing on all he has done during his entire career at the U. “FormerGopher” has a complete sense of bitter and disgust that is leaving an even worst taste in everyone’s mouth. Simply respect Dennis AND the entire Gopher team by looking back on the huge impact Dennis has made on so many swimmer’s lives and the University as a whole. He deserves to leave with that honor.

2 years 3 months ago

FWIW, he was not “fired”. The University just decided not to renew his contract. Please know that this arrangement is different from the arrangement that most salaried people enjoy at work. There’s a risk in that type of contractual arrangement, one that I – and probably most other salaried professionals – wouldn’t like to have hanging over us.
That’s all.

2 years 3 months ago

The ball is already rolling on a “Celebrate the man” get together for Dennis. I will post on this site the link to the FB page that will be created for the details.

I will need people to help me contact people from the 90s and early 2000s to get the word out.

Let me know if you are interested in helping.

2 years 3 months ago


I encourage you to talk with Dennis before getting too far along on planning a celebration. From what I can tell, he’s not really in much of a celebrating mood.


Your comments about Dennis not having the wisdom to recognize his time had passed can only mean one or both of two things. First, you think Dennis was too old for the job. Second, you think Dennis wasn’t performing. As it happens, the first is actually an illegal reason for ending someone’s employment, though it may very well be the real reason. The second is, as several others have noted, demonstrably false. You may want to plan your celebration of “the man” with the remaining coaches and members of the athletic department. No doubt they feel the same way you do. I wouldn’t plan on Dennis attending.

2 years 3 months ago


He will be contacted today if she didn’t already get a hold of him last night. We are looking at thanksgiving weekend. We are going to do what is the right thing to do – honor the person that made such a difference in our lives.

When you read the majority of these posts, that span almost 30 years between Mike zechmeister and Andy Knaak (in terms of when they swam for Dennis) – they say the same thing, how important he was and how he impacted their lives. Throw in the fact that this year may have been one of his most successful seasons with the sprint group – kind of speaks to whether or not Dennis’ time as an effective coach had passed (as mentioned above), it hasn’t passed. I know that the current group of swimmers he had were NOT happy with the announcement that he wouldn’t be back.

Kelly Boston
2 years 3 months ago

Thank you to those of you that have the personal integrity to sign your posts and are still supporting the team. Making comments that “the program is now dead to you,” “go red” or “go blue” does nothing to support the athletes who are still representing your school. This has been a difficult week for everyone directly involved.

2 years 3 months ago


I appreciate the fact this has been a difficult week for the team and the families of team members. For any swimmer, changing coaches can be disruptive, even traumatic. (I personally had three different high school swimming coaches and the first change was very difficult). For those current swimmers who felt a strong loyalty to Dennis, this transition will be especially difficult. Still, I think you can appreciate that it has been a more difficult week for Dennis.

Although I understand your interest in ensuring a quality experience for current team members, I think the University is counting on the very sentiments you express to minimize criticism of its conduct. I can’t accept that. Actions have consequences. It was entirely foreseeable that the University’s shabby treatment of Dennis would produce a range of strong reactions from at least some of his former swimmers, and likely a few of his current swimmers. Not surprisingly, given my relationship to Dennis, I think such reactions are entirely appropriate. I think the University should face consequences for an ugly situation that it easily could have avoided and that is entirely of its own making. I am sorry if those consequences diminish the experience of current swimmers.

For reasons I describe in an earlier post, I think it is understandable that some people choose to write anonymously.

Kelly Boston
2 years 3 months ago

My comment was meant to reflect my empathy toward Dennis and what he is going through as well.

2 years 3 months ago

It’s a good thing Dennis is a better coach than Kelly is a manager or there would not have been this genius coaching the gophers to their incredible rise. When you have a celebrated man of integrity you do not just unceremoniously not renew the contract. You need your alumni and former swimmers of the past thirty years. Now you are pooping on everyone’s hero. So give all yourselves a pay raise. I’m sure by firing the person who did not always give you the unquestioning yes you alway wanted has put enough fear in your underlings to make them all yes men. You master Kelly do not deserve to inherit all he has built. As a manager you have failed one of the most important decision and calls in your career. How do you get him to retire and get all the adulation and respect he has garnered over the past decades without disrespecting the one who helped you get to where you are.

2 years 3 months ago


You are so right.

Let me add, it is a mystery to me that anyone commenting on this page seem offended by those of us who question the removal. It is after all a news report about Dennis Dale’s removed from his coaching position.

Here’s the thing: to say that you appreciate Dennis for what he has meant in your life or for his contributions to the University and swimming is a wonderful sentiment. And I understand that expressing such sentiments is to pay a form of respect. But, Dennis just had his professional life trashed by the athletic department and the leadership of the combined men’s and women’s swimming team. This act was so extraordinary as to demand some sort of reaction or comment. Failing to identify the act as calloused, mean-spirited, malicious or at least so inexplicable as to demand an explanation is to effectively say you don’t care, or worse you approve.

It would be convenient for many commentators here if this obvious truth were not the case, but it is. I’m sorry; silence on this issue undermines any respect you purport to pay. That’s just the way it is, at least for now.

2 years 3 months ago


Once again, you are 100% dead on correct. An additional item that people don’t remember/know, is the fact that he also swam at the U. So truly, most of his life was given to the U. He was a tried and true “Maroon and Gold” person and his passion for the U spilled over to everyone that came in contact with him.

What I can’t wrap my brain around is how the athletic department stood by and allowed this to happen?

For everyone else, this whole situation has nothing to do with the swimmers that are currently in the program…no one is mad at them…again, they DID NOT receive this news well! This is about one person’s ego and his atrocious handling of this situation…PERIOD!

2 years 3 months ago


Of course you are correct about Dennis. FWIW, Dennis was a two-time All American in 1967. You should be aware, however, that the athletic department was totally complicit in this travesty.

Let me further illustrate my point that offering a few kind words about Dennis does not adequately address this situation. Consider the following quote from the University’s press release regarding Dennis:

“Dennis built our men’s swimming program and has been the guiding force behind its many accomplishments,” said Director of Athletics Norwood Teague. “I want to thank him for everything he has done for the University, the Athletics Department and the student-athletes who have come through this program. You don’t have this amount of consistent success without a truly special individual and we have had that in Dennis for 29 years.”

Notice how Teague’s message conveys a tone of “well, after a long career, Dennis has decided to retire and aren’t we splendid for spouting these generous platitudes about him.” In point of fact, Teague knows the athletic department shoved Dennis out the door. Surely Teague deserves some sort of special recognition for sheer hypocrisy: Thanking Dennis publicly while privately kicking him to the curb wouldn’t come easily to most folks, but then most folks are essentially sincere.

You see, it’s really impossible to distinguish the athletic department’s totally insincere kind words about Dennis from the sincere kind words posted here.

P.S. Not surprisingly, the University’s press release contains a factual error that diminishes the contributions of another past swimming coach. As reported by another website devoted to college swimming, the press release indicates “When Coach Dale took over the program in 1985, Minnesota hadn’t posted a top-five Big Ten swimming finish since 1967.” Actually, the Gopher’s finished fourth in the Big Ten in 1979 under the leadership of Bud Erickson. Bud took over a hapless program in 1975; the Gophers were 10th in the Big Ten in Bud’s first year. In the space of four years, Bud guided the team to a fourth place finish. During his five year stint, Bud was absolutely tireless. Despite having a family and holding down a full-time job as a professional architect – the University paid him on a part-time basis – Bud worked the job like a full-time coach and made a huge difference. His contributions were undervalued by me at the time and for that I apologize.

Thomas Sergeant
7 months 8 days ago

Coach Dale helped me improve my times in every freestyle event I swam in 1968…he demanded, (and got) hard work when I was ready to call it a day, built my strength, endurance, and technique. He coached at my high school, and made it a power. All my best to you, Coach!

2 years 3 months ago

I’ve sat here the past few days reading the comments being published, trying to decide whether or not I want to express my thoughts and opinions and have decided I need to say something. To be up front, I was recruited by Kelly (his first recruiting class), and was coached by him for four years. I have nothing but respect for both him and Dennis. I am truly sad that it came to this and am disappointed that Dennis is no longer with Minnesota Swimming. I also understand that emotions run high in times like these. People say things they shouldn’t and will regret someday

With all that being said, I cannot sit back and listen to everyone crucify Kelly, Norwood Teague, and the University for coming to this decision. Kelly is the Head Coach for the swimming and diving program at The U and he is the one leading the charge to get this program back to where it should be. For whatever reason he, along with the rest of the administration, felt it was necessary to make a change. It was not out of arrogance, it was not an ego getting in the way, it was made with, in their opinion (which I trust and respect), the long term prosperity of the program in mind. Kelly does have experience positively improving a program, he’s done it with both the Men’s and Women’s teams already.

I know they did not want it to end like this. I don’t know what it is that caused conflict or disagreement between Kelly and Dennis, but I know he wouldn’t make a decision that he feels would negatively impact the student-athletes and the program in the long run.

I feel awful it came to this, I love Dennis, his humor, his infinite flexibility, his never ending supply of new tennis shoes. He is one of a kind and we are all better off because we know him and were influenced by him.

The staff that remains at The U has my full support, I trust and know they will do everything they can to continue the legacy that Dennis created, a legacy that we all were fortunate enough to be a part of.

Jeff Hackler

2 years 3 months ago

To sum this up; Dennis was a very good, but not a great coach.He brought the program out of the middle ages and had some very good teams, however he never lead any of his Big 10 championship squad’s to a top 5 NCAA finish, which would have made a tremendous difference in his legacy.

Never the less, for a man to dedicate as much as Dennis has to this institution, the least they could have done is give him the chance to resign and keep some dignity, that would have allowed the University to have a simple celebration for the man that gave almost 30 years of service to a program that struggles with the Mystic of the Minnesota winters in their recruiting.

The Gophers are going to miss Dennis’ influence and Miller is going to struggle to recuit anybody of the caliber that Dennis had; short term the program is going to suffer and be an also ran in the Big 10 and a nobody on the national landscape! As a life long Gopher fan, I’m concerned for the future of swimming in Minnesota!

2 years 3 months ago


The only thing that I can think of from your first sentence is that you had a son go and swim for Dennis and for whatever reason, it didn’t work out or didn’t meet yours/his expectations. No coach in the country, past or present, has ever been an “excellent” coach for all of their athletes.

But when you look at his body of work from even BEFORE his days coaching with Corky Carl at the St. Louis Park Swim Club, then on to Burnsville HS, then his 29 years at the U – it is incredible how he has had success on every level.

Dennis is a very good golfer…he is an EXCELLENT coach. One perfect example is Dan Egeland (and this is just one of hundreds of examples)…there actually was a day where Dennis coached more than just the sprinters…Dan was in Dennis’ first class of swimmers (but was recruited by the former coach). Dan was a “good” Minnesota USS swimmer. Under Dennis, he became a finalist at NCAAs in the 100 Breast. To me, that is the definition of excellent…being able to bring out those types of performances.

2 years 3 months ago

I have just a few observations about your post. Preliminarily, I acknowledge that you obviously struggled with the issues and that your personal feelings are not really subject to a traditional right/wrong analysis. I will try to keep what follows short, but will probably not succeed.

1. While it may be true that Kelly Kremer has received some criticism from some commentators on this page, he wasn’t exactly crucified. Unlike Dennis, Kremer still has his job and his career. I don’t believe the treatment each has received is really comparable.

2. Any questions raised here about the propriety of the decision to end Dennis’s employment were entirely foreseeable and yet Kremer and the athletic department chose to proceed. Give that fact, I am not sure why it would be appropriate to insulate the University from the consequences of its decision simply because they turn out to be unpleasant (just as any reasonable person would have anticipated).

3. Your loyalty to Kremer is, if nothing else, appreciated by Kremer I am sure. That said, it apparently prevents you from grappling with the nature of the decision that was made. Instead, you describe how much you appreciate Dennis. And, despite that fact, you trust that the decision to eliminate him was for the good of the team. Your post is too conflicted to be called sunshine and light, but at the end of the day it amounts to little more than a variation of “I don’t care.” In your case, the variation goes something like, “I care, just not enough to ask whether the decision to trash Dennis’s career was appropriate.” To be fair, I am sure you would express it differently. I’m just suggesting how those of us who are deeply troubled by the decision view it.

4. Those of us who don’t accept the decision are left to wonder how exactly it helped the team to eliminate the coach who built the program and whose swimmers consistently outperform those coached by others. Is that unfair? Just what sort of program do you want to “get back to”? The one that was in the cellar of the conference, which is where the program was before Dennis was hired as the swimming coach?

5. I believe that I am the only commentator to mention Norwood Teague. What I did was to compare Teague’s words with his actions. For me, the link between words and actions as is a sort of fundamental gut check. I know others may have a greater tolerance for self-serving snow-jobs.

6. Are you troubled that eliminating experienced swimming coaches that led the team to multiple Big Ten titles now seems to be standard operating procedure at the University?

SwimDad, to sum up, Dennis is a much, much better coach than you give him credit for. Excepting Michigan (which was already at the top of the Big Ten when Dennis was hired), can you name another northern Division I men’s swimming program that has performed better over the last 25 years? No need to respond; the answer is “no.”

2 years 3 months ago

All of this conjecture and dialogue is wearing thin. Is anyone positive Dennis was not given the opportunity to retire and refused? I would understand his reluctance and at the same time understand the need for change. Change not just from a technical swimming perspective but from an expectation level and attitude that may exceed the current standard. Quite honestly I really do not know what happened. What we do know is that there remains a strong contingent of current swimmers that deserve our support. There are also some awesome recruits heading into the Gopher program and the staff is dedicated to their, and the teams, success.
It’s time to support those that are currently committed to the team and the success of the program, coached included. The past is exactly that and Dennis will be remembered as a great coach, a unique individual that brought the program back to respectability. I believe the U is committed to more than respectability, that recruiting can happen globally and not just within a 2 state area. U of M offers an outstanding educational opportunity, awesome facilities and a dedicated/qualified coaching staff. The future of the program rests in the hands of those that remain and all participants and are now aware that the expectations are higher.

2 years 3 months ago

Yes SwimDude, Dennis was given the opportunity to retire and he did refuse. It was certainly his choice to do just that. You are a breath of fresh air on this thread. This has turned into a bully fest where only a couple of individuals feel they have a right to an opinion.

2 years 3 months ago


Of course everyone has the right to voice their opinion…but sometimes people’s opinions are being formed when they don’t have all of the information. One of the things that I have tried to do and that Chris Dale has tried to do is give ALL of the information. For instance, people keep bringing up the fact that it is time for Dennis to go (or a time for change)…and I bring up the fact that this year was an excellent end of the season at NCAAs for the swimmers that were directly under his supervision. Just think about 3 things that happened at the NCAA meet and how they impacted the Gopher Men’s place in the meet:

1) 400 FR gets DQed
2) On the 3m, the diver was currently in 8th place, hits the board, fails the dive and drops out of the top 16
3) That same diver had to pull out of the platform, which is his best event and most likely been top 3 for sure

With those 3 things not happening, they could’ve been in the 14th or 15th spot…all of a sudden that looks pretty good.

For someone that supposedly has antiquated coaching techniques/style, how does he prepare Derek Toomey to go 18.95? That is my point.

Dennis was told that “we are going to go in a different direction”. They wanted him to retire because then it would’ve been easier for the people that wanted him gone.

You don’t need to look very hard on this website to see other coaches having to step down because of inappropriate relationships, recruiting violations, academic scandals, etc. Dennis in 29 years was above all of that…and people want him to be quiet and go away.

If swimming really had passed Dennis by, the swimmers would’ve been the first ones to complain about him and they would be happy that he is now gone. But they aren’t…they did not take this announcement as a step in the right direction…that it was in the best interest of the program. Unfortunately, there are some REALLY good underclassmen that will end up transferring because of this situation.

The bottom line is that Dennis was treated shamefully by Kelly and the University backed him up. Being given the option to retire, resign, etc. doesn’t make any sense when you’re the one vested in the program.

People like to throw the term “bullying” around when you don’t agree with what they have to say and you verbalize that you don’t agree with them. Again, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it doesn’t hurt to know all of the information.

Gopher Alum
2 years 3 months ago

Swimdude, you are right.
We should support the current team members. AND THE CURRENT TEAM MEMBERS DO NOT SUPPORT THIS DECISION. And we SHOULD stand by them. Especially since a legitimate reason for the termination has not been given.

Message to everyone, and please read this carefully, it is not opinion –

If you are supporting the decision to fire Dennis and at the same time standing behind Kelly, blindly trusting that this is a good decision, then you are at the same time showing your disrespect to Dennis and all that he has done for YOU and this program.
You can’t do both.

Kelly has betrayed the man who is the reason he is leading Minnesota now. The team is questioning Kelly’s leadership. The alumni are at best divided and definitely conflicted. And a great coach and mentor sits at home.
It really makes you wonder if Kelly was ignorant to the reaction that this would bring, or vastly underestimated the repercussions this would create.
Or maybe Kelly is just too arrogant to even care about things like loyalty, honor, integrity and class.

2 years 3 months ago


My sense is that the critics of the University’s decision think it is a serious matter that merits serious discussion and comment. Your comment suggests that the reason for Dennis’s removal is that a change was needed “from a technical swimming perspective” and “from an expectation level and attitude that may exceed the current standard.” Are you suggesting that Dennis’s lack of high expectations or understanding of training or stroke technique is responsible for the team’s performance since Kelly Kremer became head coach of the combined teams in 2011? How do you square these views with the performance of the sprint group at the Big Ten meet? You note that recruiting needs to be from more than two states. I see that the two senior stars are from Illinois and Wisconsin, and that freshman were from came from places like Minnesota, Colorado and Austria. Are those the two states you are referring to? I acknowledge that you are not required to justify what happened to Dennis as a prerequisite to posting your opinion here. That said, vague, conclusory and/or flimsy justifications are unlikely to satisfy those concerned about the decision and may make things worse.

The second part of your comment amounts to saying “the past is in the past; it’s time to move on and support the program.” This event occurred last week. It seems pretty fresh to me. I am pretty confident it’s still on the mind of the remaining coaching staff, at least some of the team members, and I know it’s still on Dennis’s mind. I think you can understand why some of us will read your comment as a kinder and gentler way of saying “please be quiet because I don’t care.”

I am sorry that the discussion here is wearing thin on you. Some of us have things to say about the removal of Dennis as coach. We certainly can’t compel you to read what we say. If you don’t like what you’re reading, you really can’t blame others for the fact that you continue reading.

Swim99, assuming that your assertion is accurate, what difference does it make? Are you saying that the University’s decision to remove Dennis is somehow less shameful (to quote NMCoach) because Dennis failed to play ball, assuming that is what happened? You assertion suggests you are privy to information that is private data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Do you care to share how you came by it?

Of course, I hope the current swimmers at the University have individual success and I know Dennis feels the same way. But I don’t feel so charitably about the Athletic Department and its swimming program. I think is fair for you to ask whether the critics can have it both ways (i.e., can we claim that we support individual swimmers and be vocal critics of the decision to remove Dennis). At this point in time, I think we can. In contrast, I can’t help but think that the anonymous supporters of the action taken against Dennis are hiding behind the athletes in an attempt to silence the criticism.

2 years 3 months ago

Chris Dale,
I understand the need for change and stand by that statement. Change, while detrimental to some, can be beneficial for others. Very few of us will go through our lives without losing a job, going through a divorce or realizing that some situations are just not working. Dennis’s individual successes are not the sole sticking point. Kelly is the Head Coach. A decision was made and you have found the format to vent your frustrations and dissatisfaction.

The point behind allowing someone to gracefully retire rather than be fired speaks directly to the willingness of the current powers to create a soft landing not for their benefit but for Dennis’s. He chose not to accept their offering for whatever reason and now is left with the consequences of their and his decision.
Speaking directly to your comments about 2 states. Most, not all, of the recruiting in the past was focused on Minnesota and Wisconsin. Current swimmers are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Colorado, and a few other states and countries. I may be wrong but my belief is that Kelly and Steve are responsible for broadening the scope of the recruiting to include swimmers from clubs where they have had good relationships. They have also done a good job of identifying swimmers that fit roles on the team, have good character and are academically able to handle the rigors of D1 Swimming.
In looking at the overall performance and narrowing it down to the swimmers that Dennis has coached he has done a good job. This year I am sure Toomey is happy with his 50 time of 18.95 but probably was hoping for a little better than a 19.44 relay leg and a lower than expected finish in the 100.The freshman swimmers did a great job on the relays if you look beyond the DQ’s at the B1G and NCAA meet. Finishing in 22nd place though and trying to rationalize things by saying his group outperformed or scored more points than the other groups is the kind of divisive discussion that hopefully has not trickled down to the team level.
This is a team sport, Swimming and Diving. Everybody needs to be on the same page and that page belongs to Kelly. As stated previously there appears to be a higher standard that everyone will be held to. This includes the swimmers and the coaches. It is also evidenced in other sports at the U. The women’s basketball coach, Tubby Smith and anyone not accepting the challenge for improved performance and high standards may find themselves on the outside. This unfortunately is the case here.
I am sorry this happened to Dennis. There does not seem to be a groundswell of those looking to make heads roll. I find it difficult to believe that you can support the swimmers but not the program. That would be similar to me telling my son he can achieve his goals but his coaches are idiots and can’t be trusted. Kind of a contradiction if you ask me.
I wish Dennis well and hope you are able somehow to resolve your anger issues and move on.

2 years 3 months ago

I’m going to take my own suggestion that I made earlier…and ask for more information from the posters that are thinking that this change is what’s best for the program.

Please post concrete examples as to how Dennis is no longer useful to the program, or how his coaching knowledge is now antiquated, so that I can understand your thought process.

One note about the topic of recruiting over the past 4 years:
Derek Toomey and Kyler Van Swol were the last recruits that Dennis was heavily involved in recruiting. Each year since then, more recruiting responsibilities each year were taken away from him.

So please provide me with examples so that I can better understand your position.

2 years 3 months ago

Its not that Dennis can’t coach swimmers, it’s whether or not he can be an effective part of a team of coaches who are trying to move the program forward. Dennis has many good qualities, but in my experiences he is also stubborn and has a “My way or the highway” attitude. With him no longer being in charge, was he a cooperative member of a team of coaches, or did he undermine what Kelly was trying to re-build? I’m guessing that’s where some of the conflict came from and was part of the reason for his dismissal. Please stop saying, “he coached the first sub 19 sprinter in the Big Ten” it has nothing to do with that. The era of 2 good teams in the Big Ten is over. He was successful when the other 8 teams were crappy, but that’s not the case anymore. You actually have to expand your reach and recruit beyond the upper Midwest. Kelly gets it and is building this team to be successful in this era of college swimming.

2 years 3 months ago

My position is Dennis is no longer at the U. Kelly is the head coach. No concrete examples necessary. Time for everyone to move on. If Dennis’s skills are needed elsewhere rest assured they will pursue him. I believe that Bill Trammel was also involved in recruiting these past few years as well. He is also no longer with the program.

2 years 3 months ago

Shame on the U of MN athletics department for treating coach Dennis this way! Based on comments here, coach Dennis was a positive influence on athletes personally and in their training. It is upsetting that his tenure and dedication to the U of MN swim program would not be honored and celebrated. Student athletes are affected by the character of their coach. The U is sending a terrible message to student athletes by tossing aside coach Dennis in this manner. His character is held in high regard by everyone who has posted here. Wouldn’t it be more productive for voices here to let the athletics administration know how they feel about their treatment of coach Dennis and the university’s disregard for loyalty, honor, integrity and class?

Calling you out
2 years 3 months ago




2 years 3 months ago

Calling you out,

You are an ill-informed idiot. I did not “trash anybody”. I actually said some nice things about Dennis and feel no ill will towards him or you. Your post is actually quite comical in light of the fact it’s in all caps. I can envision you screaming at your computer as you compose this dribble. So I think an apology is in order. And yes, my posts are “very well thought out”. Thank you. Unlike others like yourself that are just looking for revenge. Your frothing rant is the perfect reason for anonymity.
This is my last post and will heed my own words. Time to move on.

2 years 3 months ago


Even though I don’t agree with you, at least you provided a reason. I think “undermining” Kelly is a stretch. When Dennis brings up opposing views…he definitely “challenges” your thinking…people respond one of 2 ways…either by saying he’s a bully OR by backing up their position with facts that support their point. Kelly wants people that agree with him and never challenge what he says. Plus, Kelly spends the majority of his time with the post-grad Women and then the women…very little time was spent with the guys. Even his most ardent supporters can’t deny that.

Is Dennis stubborn –> ABSOLUTELY!
Does he have a “my way or the Highway” attitude –> SOMETIMES, but not like he did 30 years ago!

But are those reasons for termination? I don’t think so.

In 29 years leading the U, here is Dennis’ non-coaching record:
Academic Scandals = 0
Inappropriate Relationships = 0
Recruiting Violations = 0

Just a side note about Bill Trammel…his last year at Minnesota, he was told to stop recruiting because he wasn’t coming back the following year…and this was BEFORE he got the job at Marshall.

2 years 3 months ago

The comments about a “Midwest” or “2-state” recruiting foot print are misinformed. During the mid 90’s through early 2000’s swimmers from Israel, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Malaysia, Greece, Cyprus and many states beyond Minnesota/Wisconsin represented the program… In fact there was a resentment of how a significant % of the scholarship dollars were spent on International/Outstate athletes…

Dennis is a man that had a vision for the program, made numerous sacrifices and by surrounding himself with athletes that believed that hard work would pay off turned the program around.

I remember walking out onto Michigan’s deck and looking at all the banners… Minnesota Swimming under Dennis put an end to that dominance.

Coach Kelly, the termination/forced-resignation/firing of Dennis could have and should have been handled with a different tact.

My hope is the program can heal and move forward.

2 years 3 months ago


Your entire post is well thought out and very accurate…but I believe that your statement of “Coach Kelly, the termination/forced-resignation/firing of Dennis could have and should have been handled with a different tact” is the bottom line when it comes to how many of the people on this thread feel…that he deserved a much better ending.

2 years 3 months ago


A few observations:

1. It’s true, bad things happen to people in life such as crime, divorce, and job terminations. The fact that these events are inevitable in the aggregate, does not mean that we tolerate crime, accept divorce as inevitable, or turn a blind eye when people are treated unfairly at work. Sorry, that’s just an attempt to say that athletic department isn’t responsible for the action it took. In reality, it is responsible and should be held accountable.

2. Your point about allowing someone to gracefully retire is off base. These “offers” if made are always an advantage to the employer or the offer would not be made. In other words, if the University made such an offer in this case, it was entirely self-serving; the only grace involved was that which the University wished to bestow on itself. Assuming for a moment that Swim99 were correct, given the stage of his career that Dennis finds himself, how would he be advantaged by agreeing to retire? More importantly, Dennis was not ready to retire. I’m not sure why he should be expected to agree to let the athletic department dress-up its decision to end his employment so that you could feel better about it.

3. Regarding recruiting, so what your saying is that Kelly Kremer has been in charge for 3 years and he gets the credit for not only the freshmen that aren’t from Minnesota and Wisconsin, but the seniors as well? Additionally, Kremer isn’t responsible for any of the team’s shortcomings in the non-sprint areas in the last three years so don’t look at him when trying to figure what happened in those areas at the NCAA meet. To be clear, I’m not denying the Kremer has had recruiting success. Too bad he wasn’t willing to focus on men’s recruiting since he was given charge of the combined teams in 2011.

4. Citing divisiveness as a reason to avoid comparing the relative success of the swimmers of each coach is certainly convenient for the remaining coaches. But it misses the point that Dennis simply outcoached the remaining staff until the point of his removal. By the way, very classy the way you jumped on a single swim by the best sprinter in the conference. I’m sure that you gave the same scrutiny to the swims by the non-sprinters at NCAAs, oh wait . . .

5. I haven’t a clue what your comments about higher standards mean. It sounds a lot like intolerance dressed up to sound officious. Maybe it’s the “think” method applied to swimming.

6. Your repetition that it’s time to move on reminds me of that cold January morning that the team was told that Jerry McCaull had been killed in a car accident the night before. (Yes, it was a long time ago; I still think about it). Within 24 hours a talented but brainless freshman said “it was time to move on.” At least he had an excuse; he didn’t know Jerry very well and he was 18.

2 years 3 months ago


As I understand it, the University’s Athletic Director Norwood Teague doesn’t follow this message board. He remains blissfully ignorant of the frustration and concern in the swimming community that the decision to remove Dennis has caused. It’s time to contact Mr. Teague directly to express your concern about decision to remove Dennis in such a callous and shabby fashion. I suggest your briefly explain your connection to the University, Dennis and/or swimming in Minnesota followed by a brief, yet respectful explanation of your disappointment in the Athletic Department.

Here is Mr.Teague’s e-mail address: [email protected]

Here is his mailing address:

Norwood Teague
Director of Athletics,
University of Minnesota
516 15th Ave. SE
Minneapolis, Minn. 55455

2 years 3 months ago

Friends and Foes,

If anyone wishes to express their support for the current swimmers/divers and the Gopher program please note the addresses below. I suggest you state your understanding that a change has been made and you have confidence in the current coaching staff to move the program in a direction consistent with the goals of the athletic administration.

Kelly Kremer Norwood Teague
Head Coach Men’s and Women’s Swimming Director of Athletics
University of Minnesota University of Minnesota
516 15th Ave. SE 516 15th Ave. SE
Minneapolis, Minn. 55455 Minneapolis, MN. 55455

2 years 3 months ago

What a great coach and taper master. Minn has been blessed and a loss for sure.

Yet it seems strange no one has talked budgets and 3 head coaches – lacking endowments the minor sports have limited power. Don’t u think that there are other processes at work here ? The Big Ten is bringing on two more schools without swimming programs- and Illinois and Nebraska already no programs mens swimming – 4 total – is that not danger?

2 years 2 months ago

Well we know the u has pushed him aside. I wonder how the athletic department will feel if he decides to coach another team to the success. And how will the alumni feel when they all realize what fools the department heads have been. The rest of the subordinates be careful you remain yes men because there is no loyalty in the athletic department. Boy lack of loyalty is something we really want the students to emulate. Won’t the citizens of Mpls be happy to hear their coach is making winners for another school. Shame on you athletic department.

Kevin Baseheart
2 years 2 months ago

Dennis Dale is Minnesota Swimming. Not only has Dennis had an incredible impact on swimmers but he has helped create amazing coaches as well.

He has positively impacted my life before I met him and even before I started swimming.

I was coached by Dave Anderson, a former Minnesota assistant coach to Dennis Dale. Dave had similar structure and style to Dennis’. The type of structure and style that helped me become the swimmer and person I am today.

I also had the opportunity to train, compete with and be coached by Steve Miller. He is an incredible person, fantastic coach and great friend.

I am honored and privileged to have swam under the guidance of Dennis. I continue to teach others my swimming knowledge and the values set upon me during my career with the University of Minnesota Men’s Swimming.

Thank you Dennis Dale! Go Gophers!

Kevin Baseheart – Class of 2011

Adam Mitchell
2 years 2 months ago

Not renewing Dennis’ contract is atrocious. Dennis is one of those coaches who is simply not replaceable. His record did not justify this treatment. He had just coached Derek Toomey to go sub 19.00 at NCAA’s! The athletics director and staff are insane to let him retire…let alone not renew his contract. He built the program from the ground up and coached countless men to achieve incredible things. I want to see Norwood Teague literally kiss his ass and then reinstate him. I wonder where Marc Ryan was on this one. Joel Maturi would have never let this happen.

Swim Dude
2 years 2 months ago

If anyone thinks that Steve Miller did not have a hand in the recent success of the Gopher sprinters they are mistaken. The athletic director and staff made a well thought out decision which would not exemplify insanity. Dennis’ choice to sign on at Indiana was a good decision and now he can move forward with his coaching career. after all those years of claiming disdain for Looze he has put his distaste aside.
I am pretty sure Norwood will not be kissing anyone’s behind as he has made many difficult, and sometimes less than popular but necessary, decisions at Minnesota and elsewhere. Maturi’s tenure was not without difficulty which included the Tubby Smith era. My sources tell me this decision was not made in a vacuum so that means Marc Ryan was well aware. All the Dale followers can now switch allegiances and move on. Time for everyone to move forward especially those that will continue to support the Gopher nation. (I think I said this over a month ago.) Go Gophers!

Chris Dale
2 years 2 months ago


Your ability to blind yourself to the obvious import of Indiana’s hiring of Dennis probably makes your world a little easier to live in. Perhaps you are privately chucking to yourself “my goodness, Indiana has whipped Minnesota that last few years in the Big Ten meet. What could they be thinking?” Don’t think too hard about it or you just might ruin your private joke when it occurs to you that Indiana’s decision reflects what the swimming community at large is thinking – Minnesota’s decision to remove Dennis wasn’t just ill-advised, it created a wonderful opportunity for Minnesota’s direct competitors.

You see, Indiana’s decision just affirms a fact that most people already knew; it’s the remaining coaching staff at Minnesota that needs to prove itself, not Dennis.

I can’t imagine how you think it advantages Minnesota to bid good riddance to 29 years of swimming alumni who feel loyalty to Dennis. Really? This makes sense to you? To be sure, many of these folks are already beyond your reach, but as has been shown in these comments, not everyone has given up on Minnesota. Did you think that having the last mean-spirited word would regain the trust of all those who were troubled by Minnesota’s treatment of Dennis? Or, did you just completely fail to think it through before posting?


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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