Olympian Tom Jager Out as Head Coach at Washington State

Washington State University and Head Coach Tom Jager have “mutually agreed to part ways,” Athletic Director Patrick Chun announced in a press release Friday.

“We thank Tom, appreciate his years of service to Washington State University and wish him great success in his future endeavors,” said Chun.

The school said that it will immediately begin a search for the next head coach of its women’s-only team. Jager’s wife, Becky – who served as his assistant coach for the last three years – is presumably out as well.

Jager, one of the most decorated US Olympians of all-time, was hired before the 2011-2012 season. He coached the team to 32 dual meet victories in his seven seasons, and his swimmers garnered Pac-12 All-Academic honors 67 times. The team finished 8th of 9 teams at the women’s 2018 Pac-12 Championships, and never finished above 7th place in the conference under Jager.

Jager, a UCLA alum, was in 2016 named to the Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Olympic Sports All-Century Team for his own swimming success.

Before joining WSU, Jager restarted the University of Idaho’s program that had been on-the-outs for 20 years. Though that team never had immense success in the pool, but during his tenure, it grew a great academic and community-service reputation. Jager has also served administrative roles in USA Swimming (including as a part of the National Steering Committee), and as a US National Team Captain.

As a swimmer, he earned seven Olympic medals (five of which were gold), and six-times broke the 50 free world record. The latter of those records (21.81) stood for over 10 years. As a true sprinter, Jager was possibly the world’s first superstar 50 freestyler, as he won the first two World Championships (1986 and 1991) ever held in the race.

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CPG
4 years ago

My older son had the privilege of training with Tom and Becky a few summers. His experience was literally life-changing. They’re great mentors. Our swimming community is diminished by their absence. Hopefully it will be a short one …..

SwimCoachDad
4 years ago

I’ve know Tom and his family for something around 40 years. He comes from a great family and has a very good knowledge of the sport and coaching. Simply because he is an Olympian doesn’t mean he can’t coach. As well, too many suggest that he was only hired for his Olympic credentials. That is the easy way to justify this change. This could be another case where an AD with unreasonable goals and without any knowledge of the sport, is trying to make his mark and perhaps selling the idea that they can be among the leaders in the conference. With 15 years at Ohio State, he might think that being in the top 3 in the PAC 12… Read more »

Chris Ritter
4 years ago

Sad for Tom.
He gave a great interview on our podcast a while back: https://rittersp.com/podcast/training-at-90-doesnt-get-you-to-100-tom-jager

Swim3057
4 years ago

AD at Washington State, got rid of a long time successful coach at his last school (Steve Eckelkamp at Florida Atlantic). He is new to Wazzu – starting early with making changes.

marklewis
4 years ago

The sixth place team was UCLA with 847 points. Seventh was Utah with 441, and WSU had 307.

Maybe they should just drop the program like University of Washington did.

Marge
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Except Washington was 12th for the women, and 16th for the men at NCAA’s before they were cut- with no diving team.

marklewis
Reply to  Marge
4 years ago

The WSU athletic director wants to make a change, but there’s a 500 point gap to get even to 6th.

If you look at the point rankings, you see there are 3 tiers.

There’s Cal and Stanford on the top tier, then USC, UCLA and the Arizona schools close together on the second tier. Then Utah, WSU, and Oregon State on the bottom, 400-500 points behind.

fishswim101
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

UCLA and Utah have diving team, they get more points, WSU no diving team that why we get less point. tom and becky great personality. they are like family, very sad ! will be dear miss

EX QUAKER
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Wishing for a program to be dropped… a true friend of the sport.

marklewis
Reply to  EX QUAKER
4 years ago

You’re right, it’s not good to wish for a program to be dropped. I hope the WSU AD realizes what it’s like for their swimmers to compete against the extremely talented teams of the Pac-12.

By the Numbers
4 years ago

It will be interesting to see who they get to come in. Tom had great name recognition along with a tremendous personality. Hard to find a nicer guy. But, his salary was only $106,321, which isn’t a number that’s going to bring in a whole lot of talented coaches.

Kathy
Reply to  By the Numbers
4 years ago

$106k would bring in a lot of talented coaches, just AD’s won’t take chance on them since they are unproven with D1 schools.

Alli
Reply to  Kathy
4 years ago

The cost of living is fairly inexpensive in Pullman, WA, too. $106k can go a lot further there than in other places.

Jimbo
4 years ago

Dang it’s cause joe schooling stopped training 2 fly

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Jimbo
4 years ago

Schooling fans will be clamoring to have the 2 fly dropped as an Olympic event in favor of a postal event featuring 100 fly practice swims.

DMacNCheez
Reply to  Jimbo
4 years ago

I heard Schooling trained for a 2 fly in practice. Wait

Paella747
4 years ago

“As a swimmer, he earned seven Olympic gold medals (five of which were gold)…..”

Hmmmmm……

Superfan
Reply to  Paella747
4 years ago

A great swimmer doesn’t make for a great coach. Many of great coaches were not great athletes! Just saying

Brian M
Reply to  Superfan
4 years ago

I don’t know if it’s fair to classify him as not being a good coach. If I recall correctly, he had some very good seasons, (one was 8-2). Not to mention he really pushed academics, which is after all why these kids are there to begin with right? To be fair, if you are in a conference with Stanford, CAL, USC, etc. and have no diving, I don’t think that program has the ability to finish higher than 7th in the PAC 12 regardless of the coach. But then again, the old saying still applies I guess…Good Swim, Good Swimmer. Bad Swim, Bad Coach.

Z d
Reply to  Brian M
4 years ago

On top of that pullman wa is a tough place to sell to cali kids which is probably where a lot of people come from or just selling that part of washington ovef california to anyone else in the country

Yabo
Reply to  Brian M
4 years ago

I’m confused what does that saying mean

50breast
Reply to  Superfan
4 years ago

I think they were commenting on the fact that somehow only five of the seven gold medals were gold.

SwimPop
Reply to  50breast
4 years ago

Something to do with the metric system no doubt…

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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