Rich Murphy Out as Head Coach at University of Houston

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 34

December 09th, 2014 AAC, College, News

Rich Murphy is no longer the head coach of the women’s swimming & diving program at the University of Houston, a spokesperson for the school confirmed on Tuesday. The decision was made Monday, according to sources, and the school did not comment further to clarify what the nature of the separation was.

Former assistant Keith Dawley will serve as the interim head coach

Murphy did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Murphy took over the position in August, 2013 when Augie Busch left to become the head coach at Virginia.

It’s been a tumultuous 5 years for the Houston Cougars. Long-time head coach Mark Taylor died at the end of the 2010-2011 season, then Busch was the head coach for two seasons, and now Murphy was the head coach for a season-and-a-half. Dawley, in his interim role, will be the program’s 4th head coach in 5 seasons for a team that has only two seniors: one a swimmer and one a diver.

The team also lost legendary diving coach Janie Figueroa prior to this season when she left to take up a National-level position in London, England. Diving coach Yulia Pakhlania’s status is unchanged, according to the spokesperson.

Other challenges that the program will face in the short-term includes renovations to the campus pool during the spring semester that will force the team to be on the road through championship season.

The team currently has a small roster of just 20 athletes, but during the early fall signing period they signed 8 athletes to Letters of Intent.

In Murphy’s only season as head coach, Houston finished 6th out of 6 teams at the American Athletic Conference Championships. The school does not have a men’s program.

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8 years ago

My daughter is one of the 8 new recruits. News of Murphy’s firing came as a shock and has been distressing, as our experience with UH thus far has been great. Now, reading these comments and getting a glimpse of what people think about him and the program is disturbing.

Reply to  FutureUHparent
8 years ago

Take it allllllll with a grain of salt FutureUHParent and know that not all is true. I too have an athlete at UH that was recruited under a different regime… the character building alone has made her a better person! 🙂

Reply to  FutureUHparent
8 years ago

Agree, as my Daughter too is one of the 8 new recruits!!

Reply to  FutureUHParent2
8 years ago

I can’t imagine why someone would down vote a concerned parent’s comment – odd.
Re: HELICOPTER MOM’s reply.. It actually is a public matter. It’s a public institution, run by government employees, making decisions that affect student athletes and their families. Parent perspective absolutely has value and it’s ludicrous to suggest otherwise. I appreciate COUGARMOM’s comments which obviously come from experience and knowledge of the program.

8 years ago

FutureUHParent(s) – UH is a great school on a positive trajectory. There are so many upsides of attending UH, and the benefits of a well established Div 1 athletic program (facilities, trainers, doctors, etc…) also cannot be overlooked. BL: this weeks dismissal of Coach Rich was a big surprise to all, but don’t buy into all the drama folks are posting online, especially those not involved in the program as swimmer, parent, or staff. It’s hard to get inside scoop on any college program, and signing period is so nerve wracking for student-athlete and parent alike. My best advice is if you nagging questions, reach out to parent of Cougar Swim Parents, especially of the Freshmen who are the closest… Read more »

Reply to  CougarsDen
8 years ago

Thanks COUGARSDEN… Your comments are very encouraging, and consistent with what we’ve experienced at UH. From the minute she stepped on campus, our girl fell in love with the school, the program, and especially her future teammates. We’re not going anywhere! Go Coogs!!

8 years ago

Ok so… its actually becoming quite comedic how the people who are uneducated on the situation are making these silly comments. It is becoming downright funny now.

So lets just clarify a few things so that everyone can settle themselves and everyone can move ON.

First and most importantly this group of ladies (because UH is a Women’s only team) has had one challenge after another that they have managed to handle overall, EXTREMELY WELL considering what they have been faced with at their age.
They have now had 4 coaches in the last 5 seasons? I think that is enough to cause a little unrest in any program of any type.
First, these girls tragically and… Read more »

Helicopter Mom
Reply to  CougarMom
8 years ago

I presume your comments are in defense of your child and intended to help. Your decision to make public your perception of her experience is a real lapse in judgment. Your parent-perspective of a university employee simply does not have any value, especially when the parties involved have not made any facts known. Your decision to make a public statement says a lot about you without regard to the implications (whether intended or not). Let’s act like we would like our children to behave. This is not a public matter.

8 years ago

Jane was offered a job coaching an Olympic athlete and took the opportunity. She did not quit over anything to do with hiring of swim coaches.

8 years ago

Disappointed to see Coach Murphy dismissed after 1.5 seasons. Unsure of the reasoning, but rebuilding a program is a very challenging undertaking that takes at least 3-4 years to see the results from recruiting and the buy in of the existing athletes. For some people change can be difficult and can result in difficult decisions that not everyone may agree with. Hopefully we didn’t pull the trigger on Coach Murphy just because a group of people didn’t like the direction he was taking a program. With most changes in life there will always be a step backwards before everything starts to click and you start seeing results. 1.5 years was not enough time in this sport to make this kind… Read more »

8 years ago

It’s time Mack Rhodes stop treating this team as a black sheep. Both Augie doggy and Rich were bad hires. Neither had D1 head coaching experience. There were very qualified seasoned D1head coach interviews after Mark died. But Mack went for the young whipper snapper that was going to use UH as a stepping stone. Everyone knew Augie was short term. Rich was an assistant club team coach for heavens sake. Jane quit over the hire. What a mess now.
Mack spend some $$$$ and time and do your job. UH deserves better. Our legacy deserves better.

Reply to  UHalumparent
8 years ago

Jane didn’t quit over any hire. She got offered a job coaching an Olympic athlete, and took the opportunity.

8 years ago

Considering the reasoning’s for his dismissal have not been made public yet, you obviously are not aware of what the actual situation is. There is no way that administration would release a head coach in the middle of a season without good reason, even if there were issues with the coach- swimmer relationships.To say that Augie only coached the girls to swim fast and make them happy is disrespectful to him as a coach and the girls coached under him. With Keith Dawley now in charge, hopefully the girls can thrive and finish out their season in success and I wish all of the girls the best!

8 years ago

You have no idea what you are talking about…There is not a drug or alcohol problem with UH swimmers and shame on you for suggesting that.

8 years ago

Dude, only Coach Rich and the school know what happened, so don’t speculate. Also, unless you’re a swimmer on the team, or a parent of one of the student-athletes you were just so quickly to “diss” ( which was uncalled for), or a member of the UH athletic staff, this is really none of your business. Many of these young ladies are kicking butt in the classroom as well as the pool, stay out of trouble and don’t bring any drama to the team…ie; the ideal student athlete. But you wouldn’t know that because you’re a random dude on Swim Swam. Don’t be a hater…let’s all wish Coach Keith well as he has a big job ahead of him and… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of 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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