Swimming Sees Small Improvements in 2020-2021 Women in Coaching Report Card

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, based at the University of Minnesota, has released its 2020-2021 Women in College Coaching Report Card.

As sports wholistically, both swimming and diving received an “F”, the lowest grade possible, in the center’s evaluation of the number of women who were head coaches of women’s programs.

The Tucker Center found that only 21.9% of women’s diving programs were led by female head coaches, while only 20.5% of women’s swimming programs were led by female head coaches.

The study does note that in sports like swimming and track & field, there is a higher percentage than most sports of programs where the men’s and women’s teams share a head coach.

Both sports did, however, see small improvements versus the Tucker Center’s 2019-2020 report card, where 21.8% of diving head coaches and 17.9% of swimming head coaches were female.

A comparison of the swimming numbers:

  • 2019-2020 – 35 female head coaches, 161 male head coaches
  • 2020-2021 – 40 female head coaches, 155 male head coaches

Head Coach Number and Percentile Alphabetically by Sport and Gender for Division-I Women’s Teams 2020-2021

The report breaks down the data by conference, institution, sport, family narrative, age, and a number of other factors.

Only 18 schools among NCAA Division I institutions received the top grade of “A” under the Tucker Center’s grading scale, meaning that at least 70% of the head coaches of their women’s programs are female. Of those 18 programs, only 8 sponsor swimming and diving programs, and of those 8, 4 head coaches are women:

  • Cincinnati (combined program) – Mandy Commons-DiSalle – female
  • Illinois (women only) – Sue Novitsky – female
  • Monmouth (combined program) – Matt Nunnally – male
  • Northeastern (women only) – Roy Coates – male
  • Rhode Island (women only) – Lilly Falconer Deering* – female
  • San Diego (women only) – Mike Keeler – male
  • Toledo (women only) – Brie Globig – female
  • UNLV (combined) – Ben Loorz – male

*In May, Rhode Island named Deering as the interim head coach after Mick Westkott, who has been with the program for 50 seasons, stepped into a role as an associate head coach/advisor to Deering.


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2 months ago

Thanks Braden, this is interesting! Is there a link to the data by conference or school?

2 months ago

I’d be curious to see data on assistant coaches, which might suggest if the problem is sexist hiring of head coaches or lack of female interest in coaching.

Equal opportunity for ALL
Reply to  Patrick
2 months ago

or whoever, what’s the overall percent of swim coaches that are female and is this number appropriate to that 22%? Even with this, it’d be easy for some to say women leave the sport bc of this…but as a coach I’ve seen and experienced males be the victim of gender discrimination (no one will ever say it or say that’s the reason the wouldn’t hire someone) but most all know it’s the truth, and have seen less qualified, experienced, or even not good personalities get jobs bc they check the diversity box for someone. I understand and value programs having (at least) a female coach on staff, but again have seen many better coaches get… Read more »

1 month ago

This doesn’t even touch on the fact there probably isn’t even 2% of female head coaches of a men’s (or joint) program, although it is so common for men to head up women’s teams. The narrow study of only women’s teams is a distortion of the reality. It is pitiful, and so ingrained, it may a generation or 2 to even dent.

1 month ago

I have some thoughts on this and wanted to get some feedback.

I love that people are opening their eyes to women I’m coaching more and more. I personally know of some great women coaches that should definitely be running a program instead of hanging out in the wing. However. I have a side opinion about positions that hire women just to hire women. Especially if they are fresh out of college with NCAA experience. I’ve seen multiple women get hired to some bigger college programs who have swimming experience but little to absolutely no NCAA experience.

I say this is a problem because these roles are getting filled by people who might not be qualified to fill… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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