Tracy Huth will leave his position as the Oakland University Director of Athletics as of January 31st, the school announced last week.
This is significant to swimming because Huth is the man who led the Oakland swim program to its current level of success as one of the country’s best-built, most stable NCAA Division I mid-major swim programs.
The team moves into a new conference this season, but they have won the last 14 Summit League Championships.
Huth has been affiliated with the program for some 30 years as an athlete, coach, and administrator. He still ranks 10th on the school’s all-time list in the 1650 free with a 15:53.44 from 1983. As a swimmer, he was a three-time NCAA Division II Swimmer of the Year, and won the 200 IM and 400 IM NCAA Championships all four years of his career – which earned him a spot in Oakland’s Hall of Honor. He’s the only swimmer in any NCAA Division to accomplish that quadruple double.
Huth took over as head coach of the women’s program in the 1987-1988 season, a position in which he remained until 1997. During his time, the Oakland women won all 5 of their NCAA Division II national team championships, and they only once in his last 9 years as the head of that program finished lower than 1st in the GLIAC conference. He was then enshrined in the school’s Hall of Honor for a second time, as a coach.
Huth’s tenure as a coach coincided with the same year where the Oakland teams were suspended after an out-of-control party that was followed by a student being killed in a car accident.
He was a part of the administration that oversaw Oakland’s move from the NCAA Division II to a strong mid-major NCAA Division I program, across many sports, and has had his hand in most of the major athletic accomplishments of the school over the last 35 years.
He was also in the administration when Pete Hovland took the success he’d built with the men’s swimming & diving program and in the 2001-2002 season merged it with the legacy of success that Huth had built with the women’s team.
Most importantly, he was an understanding ear for swimming in a prominent office. He had been involved in the Oakland swim team for years, and was one of the first big stars of Pete Hovland’s tenure at the school. One can only imagine that this had a strong continuing impact on Oakland’s recent run of success.
The program will continue on, and there’s no indication that its success will falter just because of this move, but swimming as a sport has lost a voice in a high-ranking NCAA office, and it’s worth noting.