On Tuesday, Marsh, the men's and women's swimming coach, will meet with athletic director Jay Jacobs to discuss what the coach says is "the direction he wants to see the program move forward to in order to be competitive to win more national championships for Auburn."
Jacobs says keeping the most successful coach in Auburn history is his "highest priority."
Ironically, if Marsh leaves Auburn to coach the traditionally powerful Stanford women's program, he will be taking over for former Auburn head coach Richard Quick, who was Marsh's coach and mentor when Marsh was an All-American swimmer for the Tigers.
Quick, who went on to become an Olympic coach, left Auburn reluctantly after the university failed to build the program adequate facilities to build a national championship program. Marsh has been lobbying for years to upgrade AU's facilities with an Olympic-size outdoor pool, something that Stanford has two of plus a third outdoor pool for its divers. Although AU officials have said they want to build an outdoor pool, no plan has been set in motion to get the project done.
Marsh says he hopes that he will finish his career at Auburn. "I love Auburn, I am Auburn," he says. "This is the place I grew up. This is the place I realized my dreams as an athlete and now professionally, and, academically as a student. I was the first Marsh to have a college diploma. There are just so many things about Auburn that tie directly into my heart. It would be very strange to picture myself anywhere else."
However, it is not a given he will be back at Auburn. Sources close to the coach tell Inside the Auburn Tigers that Marsh was impressed by the administrative support given swimming as well as the facilities Stanford offers its coaches.
Auburn swimmers signed autographs in addition to participating in the traditional rolling of Toomer's Corner. The seniors have won three straight national titles.
Marsh has been contacted by Notre Dame, Tennessee and other colleges about job openings, but so far Stanford appears to be the only one he is seriously considering. Earlier in his AU career, he turned down a very attractive financial package to jump to SEC rival Florida, but the decided to stay. Marsh says increasing his salary is not a motivator in his decision to consider another job.
Auburn University interim president Dr. Ed Richardson spoke at Toomer's Corner on Friday evening and had high praise for Marsh. Prior to his speech, Richardson said, "I think Stanford is the only other college he has interest in and he was out there yesterday. It would be a great loss to us if we lost him. There is tremendous support for him in this community and I support him. We are going to have some very good discussions with him in the early part of next week. We are going to do everything within our power to keep him here."
Richardson said that "without doubt" Marsh is a model college coach whose athletes are very successful in the classroom, in competition and highly involved in civic affairs in the community. "He has a 100 percent graduation rate. He runs a first-class program in terms of their behavior. They have great coaches who set high standards. The students have high GPAs. If you want to pick a model program to show what intercollegiate athletics is all about, I would pick the swimming and diving team."
Richardson said he watched the swimmers help raise $200,000 last weekend for cystic fibrosis research campaign. "You just saw a commitment to the community that you don't see in every program."
Dr. Ed Richardson speaks at the ceremony at Toomer's Corner while athletic director Jay Jacobs (orange shirt, left of Richardson) and Coach David Marsh (blue shirt, right of Richardson) wait their turn.
Speaking to the crowd at Toomer's Corner, athletic director Jacobs said he was particularly impressed with the senior class, which won its third consecutive national title. "We just appreciate so much, not just what they have done in the water, but as Dr. Richardson said, what they represent. They represent the true Auburn person."
After his speech, Jacobs said, "He is a premier coach, not only for swimming, but for Auburn. Hopefully, it will be sooner than later when he makes a decision on whether he is going to stay or leave."
Jacobs added that it is "important to the Auburn people" that Marsh stay at Auburn. "Keeping David at Auburn is my top priority," Jacobs said. "He has been here for 15 years and he has to make a career decision. I would like for him to be a career coach at Auburn and that is what Dr. Richardson would like. He has to make a decision of where he is in his life and what Stanford would do for him or not. It is not about money, which speaks to his character."
Marsh told the crowd at Toomer's Corner the Tigers have an "outstanding team returning" that will have an excellent chance to lead the Tigers to a fourth straight NCAA crown. He says that with a very strong women's signee class of 15, that team should be strong in 2005-2006, too. "We have got a real set up for next year and beyond."