Samland’s abrupt resignation comes just a few weeks into the 2022-23 season, with the Mavericks set to compete for the first time on Sept. 30.
Team members were made aware of the news on Tuesday.
Jessica Hessel will take over as the interim head coach for both the men’s and women’s teams for the remainder of the season. Hessel has been on the program’s coaching staff for the past seven seasons, including the last two as an associate head coach.
Samland began coaching the Omaha women’s swim & dive team at its inception in 1997, and added the role of men’s head coach when the program was added in 2020.
“I want to express my gratitude to the athletic department for the support of our program over the past 24 years,” Samland said, according to the UNO release. “I would like to especially thank (former athletic director) Connie Claussen for hiring me and believing in me.
“What I have enjoyed most is the people I have met through coaching – athletes, staff, and coaches. The athletes I have coached over the years, and their families, have truly been a blessing in my life and I cherish the relationships that have been formed over the years and look forward to staying connected to many of them.”
Samland indicated he plans on venturing down a new career path in the future.
“Now it is time to take a step in another direction, my family and I are looking forward to our next chapter as I dive into the private sector for my next career.”
A school spokesperson declined to offer any information behind the reasoning for the resignation coming so early into the season.
Samland is not the first Division I head coach to step down early into the 2022-23 season. Jim Halliburton resigned from Saint Louis earlier this month to take a job at WashU, and Tulane head coach Leah Stancil also left that program in late August to take an assistant position at nearby LSU.
During his 24-year run with the program, Samland led the Maverick women to plenty of success, including a third-place finish at the Summit League Championships last season.
Overall, he coached five NCAA Division II champions during his career, and his athletes made 13 straight appearances at the NCAAs from 1999 to 2011. The team’s highest-ever finish at nationals came in 2006, when Samland helped propel the Omaha women to a fifth-place showing.
Since joining the Summit League in 2012-13 (and reclassifying as a D1 school), the Mavs have finished as high as second (2017-18) at the conference championships, and Samland has been named the Summit League Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year on two occasions.
In the men’s team’s first season of competition last year, the squad placed fourth at the Summit League Championships.
“Coach Samland is synonymous with swimming and diving in the Omaha community, and our programs performed at a high level under his leadership,” said Omaha Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Alex Dowell.
“On behalf of Omaha Athletics and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, I want to thank Coach Samland for his dedication to swimming and diving at Omaha, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Stepping into Samland’s shoes, at least for the remainder of the season, will be one of his former swimmers.
Hessel was a 10-time All-American swimmer under Samland during her athletic career (2004-08), including anchoring the team’s victorious 400 free relay at the 2008 NCAA Division II Championships.
After graduating from UNO in 2010 and earning her master’s degree in sports administration from Henderson State in 2012, when she also worked as a graduate assistant coach with the swim team, Hessel pursued coaching full-time. She spent three years at Truman, including the last season as an associate head coach, before returning to her alma mater in 2015.
The UNO swim team will compete for the first time next Friday, Sept. 30, hosting St. Cloud State, though the meet will take place at Millard West High School. Their primary facility, H&K Pool, is currently under construction.