Women's Swimming and Diving to be under new leadership
AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas Women's Athletics Director Christine Plonsky today announced the immediate search for a new Longhorns women's swimming coaching staff. A search committee will be formed to initiate the process.
Jill Sterkel and Mike Walker have been co-head coaches since spring of 2000. Sterkel's coaching contract expires April 15, 2006. It will not be renewed, but she will remain in a capacity within UT Athletics indefinitely and will assist in the transition period. Walker will immediately be reassigned within UT Athletics. His contract runs through April 15, 2008.
"This was a difficult decision. These two outstanding individuals have given and contributed greatly to the efforts of our women's swimming program," Plonsky said. "We feel the program will benefit from a new structure."
Sterkel, a 1984 UT graduate, was a three-time Olympian in 1976, 1984 and 1988, winning two gold medals and two bronze medals as a world-class freestyle swimmer. Under her direction, the Longhorns finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships on 13 occasions, including a runner-up finish in 1994 and third-place finishes in 1993, 1995 and 2001 (the first year that Sterkel and Walker served as co-head coaches). This year, Texas placed eighth at the NCAA Championships, held last weekend.
Sterkel coached six NCAA individual swimming champions at Texas. At the Olympic level, five of Sterkel's Longhorn swimmers won a total of four gold and two silver medals.
Under Sterkel, the Longhorns claimed 12 conference championships (Southwest Conference and Big 12) and two runner-up league finishes. Texas is the eight-time defending Big 12 champion in women's swimming and diving, with Sterkel and Walker serving as co-head coaches for the last six years.
Among her many international coaching assignments and achievements, Sterkel was the women's head coach for both the 2003 and 2005 USA teams at the World University Games. She also became the first female assistant coach of Team USA at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
She was named the Big 12 Conference Women's Coach of the Year seven times, including this season, and shared that honor with Walker three of those years (2001, '03 and '04).
Sterkel became head coach at her alma mater in 1992-93 after a UT swim career which saw her earn 21 NCAA individual and relay championships en route to being named the Broderick Award National Swimmer of the Year (1980, 1981) and the overall Broderick Cup as the nation's National Female Athlete of the Year in 1981. She swam for UT from 1980-83 and led Texas to national team titles in 1981 and 1982.
Walker was in his sixth season at Texas this year, prior to taking a personal leave of absence for the swim season. UT placed in the top eight or higher at the NCAA Championships - including a third-place finish in 2001 - and won Big 12 titles six times with Walker on the sidelines as co-head coach.
In Walker's UT tenure, four Longhorns claimed NCAA individual championships. He also was an assistant coach for the Republic of Singapore in the 2000 Olympics. Prior to his arrival at Texas, Walker was an assistant coach, then co-head swimming coach, at the University of California (1994-2000).