A three-time NCAA Coach of the Year and 16-time conference Coach of the Year, Stillson coached four individuals to eight NCAA Championships and 20 student-athletes to 71 All-America honors. He has also mentored three NCAA Divers of the Year and 10 U.S. National Champions. Overall, SMU has seen 21 of Stillson’s divers win 89 conference championships.
“We want to thank Coach Stillson for his years of service and his outstanding contributions to the successes of our student-athletes,” said SMU Director of Athletics Rick Hart. “He is a legend in his field and has set the standard for SMU Diving. He has positioned us to compete for championships for years to come. We look forward to having him back on campus this fall when we open our new natatorium and having him join us to celebrate the future championships our divers will win because of the foundation he has laid.”
On the International level, Stillson has coached three Olympians to four appearances, including Scott Donie (USA), who competed at the 1992 and 1996 Games, winning silver in 1992. Stillson also mentored 1996 Olympians Ali Al-Hasan (Kuwait) and Tony Inglesias (Bolivia).
In 1989, Stillson was named the NCAA Men’s Diving Coach of the Year and, in 1990 and 1995, the NCAA Women’s Diving Coach of the Year. Stillson served as one of the U.S. Diving National Team coaches from 1987-91 and again in 1997, leading the team at events in countries such as Europe, Australia, China and the Soviet Union. In addition, he was selected as a team leader for the USA Diving team at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
His successful coaching ability in 1999 earned him that year’s United States Olympic Committee Diving Coach of the Year award. In 1992, Stillson received the Mike Malone Memorial Award, given for outstanding contributions to diving by the national governing body of the sport. In 2015, Stillson was honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame with the Paragon Award, which is presented annually to individuals or organizations for outstanding contributions to aquatics.
“It has been both a privilege and an honor to have worked and competed alongside Jim Stillson, and I am fortunate to be able to call Jim my friend,” head men’s swimming coach Eddie Sinnott said. “He has impacted so many people, young and old, over the last three-plus decades here on the Hilltop, and I am sure he will continue to do that as he moves into the next phase of his life. I have no doubt that we will continue to feel Jim’s presence around SMU for years to come.”
Head women’s swimming coach Steve Collins discussed the great impact he has made toward the success of the women’s program over the past 30 years.
“His accomplishments will rank at the highest level as a coach at SMU. He has been a leader in the sport of diving in the NCAA and USA Diving at both the National and International level. The number of conference champions, NCAA All-Americans and NCAA champions he has developed during his career rank him as one of the greatest coaches in the sport. He brought a level of professionalism and dedication that has impacted SMU and the sport of diving in a positive way.
“I believe that his true legacy will be measured by the positive impact he made on so many people’s lives during his career as a coach and to all of us associated with SMU swimming and diving.”
Stillson came to SMU following a coaching stint at Columbia University. He was a high school All-American at Campbell High (California), and went on to compete at Ohio State where he earned NCAA All-America honors on 3 meter his senior year.
News courtesy of SMU Athletics.