The swimming community as a whole faces a tough future with college swimming and diving programs being shutter across country. USA Swimming understands this more than anyone as college programs feed the elite ranks of our sport.
“This is potentially one of the most significant USOC hires because of the impact it can have on cultivating more collaborative relationships between NCAA member institutions and the USOC’s National Governing Bodies,” said USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus. “With so many Olympians, including the majority of swimmers, developing as NCAA student-athletes, this is important for the future success of our sport on the podium and to provide opportunities for young swimmers whose goal is to compete at the college level.”
The release below is courtesy of the USOC
The United States Olympic Committee today announced the hiring of Sarah Wilhelmi as its first director of collegiate partnerships. Joining the USOC from the West Coast Conference, Wilhelmi will be tasked with developing and executing strategies aimed at supporting student-athletes, and preserving and growing Olympic sport programs at the collegiate level.
The creation of the position is part of a key organizational initiative to provide increased support in the maintenance and expansion of collegiate athletics, which is a crucial pipeline for the U.S. Olympic Team.
“Collegiate sport is absolutely critical to the success of Team USA,” said Alan Ashley, USOC chief of sport performance. “Colleges and universities provide the foundation for many individuals to develop as high performance athletes. These athletes then go on to find great success at the Olympic Games as part of Team USA, highlighting just how important collegiate sports are to the Olympic Movement. With a deeply rooted background in college athletics, Sarah will be a key driver of increased collaboration between the USOC, NGBs, and all of the NCAA member institutions and conferences.”
“Thriving Olympic sport opportunities at the collegiate level ultimately provide quality life experiences for student-athletes, celebrate the holistic educational offerings of many colleges and universities, and preserve the tradition of Olympic success by Team USA,” said Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics at Duke University, and USOC board member. “Adding a USOC position singularly focused on collegiate athletics will help bolster Olympic sport programs, and will ultimately be a win-win for everyone involved.”
Wilhelmi will work jointly with the U.S. National Governing Bodies of sport, their respective collegiate committees (including coaching associations), and NCAA member institutions and conferences that sponsor Olympic sport programs to develop actionable plans to elevate national engagement and support of Olympic sport opportunities.
“I am honored to join Team USA and excited to support the talented athletes competing at the collegiate and international levels,” said Wilhelmi. “I look forward to partnering with leaders across the NGB and NCAA landscape to help advance the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
“The majority of NGBs rely on collegiate athletics to both encourage participation and develop elite-level athletes, which makes this new position extremely important,” said Doug Beal, USA Volleyball CEO and member of the search committee. “We’re delighted to welcome Sarah to the Olympic family; her background and experience are tailor-made for this role.”
Wilhelmi has been involved in athletics administration for 12 years, including the last eight with the WCC, where she most recently served as the associate commissioner for governance and institutional services and the senior woman administrator. In that role, she managed the implementation of the organizational strategic plan and was responsible for the conference’s governance structure and facilitation of all legislative proposals and sport recommendations through the appropriate cabinets/committees.
Previously, Wilhelmi was the assistant director of compliance services at Stanford University after beginning her career as a student services administrative assistant at the alma mater, the University of Iowa. She also previously held internships with both the NCAA and USOC.
While a student at Iowa, Wilhelmi was a four-time Academic All-American while competing on the track and field team. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2003, she continued on at Iowa and earned a master’s degree in health and sport studies in 2005.