Setting the Field for the North Carolina Head Coaching Job

Rich DeSelm has announced his resignation as the head swimming & diving coach at the University of North Carolina, which means that we’ve already got a huge position open to start the coaching carousel. While the women were just 7th at ACCs this year and the men 10th, this is still being treated by coaches around the country as a top-tier position, given the program’s history and resources.

It’s likely that the position won’t be filled until after the NCAA Championships, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too soon to take a spin on the coaching carousel. Below is a list of possible candidates for the position.

Note: this is editorial content, based on rumors, speculation, and conjecture. None of these individuals have indicated to me that they are or are not interested in the position.

Below, we’ve handicapped the field. Who else have we missed that belongs on this list? Leave it in the comments:

  • Yuri Suguiyama, head coach, Wisconsin – Timing is everything. If this position were open a year ago, Suguiyama would have been the front runner as an alumnus. But, after 1 year at Wisconsin, with a new pool on the way and some success forming in Madison around the crusts, hard to see him jumping ship already.
  • Catherine Vogt, USC associate head coach – Another program alumnus, Vogt also coached at UNC early in her career under Frank Comfort from 2005-2008. At USC, she’s coached a number of successful Trojan distance swimmers, including Haley Anderson, and USC has both men’s and women’s programs that are consistently top 10 contenders. While known best for what she’s done with distance swimmers, USC is a program that’s also done incredible things with sprinting. That’s the well-rounded expertise needed to contend for titles in the ACC. If I’m UNC, this is the first call that I would make.
  • Tyler Fenwick, Virginia associate head coach – The ACC has done well in cannibalizing each others’ assistants so far, in that Todd DeSorbo is off to a great start in Virginia. UVA has a lot of forward energy right now, and UNC needs forward energy as much as they need anything in this position. Also, I’m pretty sure that he’ll be the first coach on this list to Tweet and deny that he’s interested.
  • Brian Perisie, Akron head coach – he’s done everything right in 6 seasons at Akron. 6 MAC Coach of the Year awards, qualifying multiple individuals and relays to NCAAs this year. His name has to be in a lot of conversations at schools looking for head coaches.
  • Stefanie Moreno, Georgia associate head coach – Mostly included because it would be inept to leave her out, but I truly think that she’s waiting for the Georgia head coaching position to open up. Can’t see another (good) reason why she hasn’t gotten a head coaching job yet. The success record speaks for itself.
  • Cory Chitwood, Arizona assistant – He’s got big-time swimming experience. His swimmers (Leah Smith especially) had success while he was an assistant at Virginia. He was legendary as a leader when he was an athlete, and it seems like he’ll be in a head coaching position sooner rather than later.
  • Tracy Slusser, Stanford associate head coach – The Stanford women are the 2-time defending NCAA Champions. She’s been there at 7 seasons. If she wants to jump for a head coaching position, her iron is as hot as it’s going to be. But Stanford also has a very good thing going right now. It can be hard to leave in the middle of a run like that, with the Olympics on the horizon and Olympians all over deck.
  • Coley Stickels & Mike Westphal, Indiana assistants – Both are ambitious coaches, and Indiana’s rise from ‘Solid Big Ten program’ to ‘fighting for national titles’ since their arrivals in Bloomington can’t go overlooked.
  • Tanica Jamison, Texas A&M associate head coach – The A&M women have been one of the most consistent programs in the decade (though that started with Slusser, above, on deck). Jamison has international caliber swimming on her resume too, which always appeals to Athletics Directors. She’s been at A&M since 2011, and the Aggies have run off 6-straight top 4 finishes. They don’t have the same flash and sizzle and pizzazz as some of the other programs on this list, but they sure do get the job done (and without many top 5 recruiting classes, either).
  • Dr. Josh White, Michigan associate head coach – I sort of thought he’d be gone in the flurry of hires last season. But, that just makes him all-the-more of a consideration for this season. He coaches open water and distance swimmers, which for a long time was UNC’s bread-and-butter, has a few international appointments to fill out his resume, he’s been an NCAA head coach (at Division III power Pomona-Pitzer), and he’s got a lot of athletes to hang his hat on: Connor Jaeger, Felix Auboeck, PJ Ransfard, Ricardo Vargas, etc.
  • Katie Robinson, Northwestern associate head coach – Northwestern is year 1 into what feels like a big rise for them in the Big Ten. Again, that sort of energy can be hard to leave. But Robinson has D1 head coaching experience (at Tulane), and again: a coach with momentum and energy is sometimes what a program like UNC needs.
  • Brian Smith, Georgia associate head coach – If we don’t think that Moreno is available, then Smith has to be on the short-list. Georgia is a successful team, and Smith has been there for 12 years, encompassing a big part of that run.
  • Mark Bernardino, NC State associate head coach – I mostly put this in here to see if I could make any Virginia alumni’s heads explode. But…he obviously had an impact at NC State in his first year, he’s won the ACC more times than anybody on the men’s side. If you can’t beat them, hire their coaches! Wouldn’t even have to pay relocation expenses. (No, I don’t think this will really happen).

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4 years ago

Steve and Sherwood would something to mess with that’s sitting in their backyard.

Sweetie T
4 years ago

UNC would be wise to look at N.C. State assistant Brandt Nigro has a record of developing and taking swimmers to next level 5years college and total of 13years over all great choice also a good choice for associate head coach working with woman’s team and sprinters

4 years ago

A complete outsider could prove disruptive. Duncan Sherrard is a familiar face and a proven sprint trainer. He has recruited well and is a student of the sport. 👍👍

Reply to  Heather
4 years ago

I mean, I think Duncan is as good of a candidate as a few of the names on this list but…

What are you afraid of disrupting? The historic lowest finishes in program history? If a disrupter to that is available…give me a disrupter!

2 Cents
4 years ago

Shane Tusup. He can still coach, and be pretty close to such golf courses as Pinehurst and Augusta to work on his game.

Coach Cwik
4 years ago

Look no further than your backyard. Most experience coach already coaches Club at the school. Steve Brown has developed more talent than any five of the coaches, you have named.

Reply to  Coach Cwik
4 years ago

Steven Brown is a very good coach. Would Rhodenbaugh be a viable candidate for UNC if he does not return to Mizzou?
Josh White is staying likely staying put until Bottom departs. Stickels would be an excellent hire as would some of the aforementioned club coaches.

4 years ago

brian peresie

4 years ago

Lance Asti! Another great associate head coach who might want to grow his career as a head coach

Reply to  schwimmer
4 years ago

or Marc Gangloff

4 years ago

At this point we might as well put Coach Beefcake on the list

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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