Marsh To Leave AU After 2006-2007 Season

Auburn, Ala.--The most successful coach in Auburn University history is leaving the university at the end of the 2006-2007 season to take a pair of jobs in Charlotte, N.C.

David Marsh, head coach of the defending national champion Auburn men's and women's swimming teams, announced on Wednesday that he is leaving his alma mater where he was an All-American swimmer.

Marsh will take over the position as director of the prominent Mecklenburg Aquatic Club, which established the United States Olympic Committee Center of Excellence. Marsh will become chief executive officer of the club. He will also be the head coach of the elite team designed to develop Olympic caliber swimmers for the United States.

"This is a unique, first-ever position that was created by the United States Olympic Committee, USA Swimming and the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club and is a outstanding opportunity for me to assist in the development of future American Olympians," Marsh says.

"I am an Auburn man and it will be extremely difficult to leave the department, university and community, however, I feel this decision was made at this time in the best interest of my family as well as my career.

"Jay Jacobs (Auburn athletic director) has the department headed in the right direction and is committed to maintaining the level of excellence of the swimming and diving program. I will cherish this season as we compete for two more national championships in 2007."

Also on Wednesday, Jacobs announced that six-time Olympic coach Richard Quick will serve as an adviser to the Auburn swimming teams this season.

Quick, Auburn's highly successful men's and women's head coach from 1978-82, has won a total of 12 NCAA team titles during his 28-year collegiate coaching career, the most in the history of Division I coaching. Quick coached the Stanford women's team for 17 seasons before deciding to take a break after the 2005-2006 season. Quick and Marsh have a close relationship. Marsh became a world class backstroker while swimming for Quick at Auburn.

"We are ecstatic that Richard Quick is coming on board," Jacobs says. "His assistance will be invaluable. Coach Marsh set the bar high for our program, and we are doing everything we can to keep it there."

Quick is likely to be a leading candidate to take over as head coach of the Tigers after Marsh leaves.

"We are committed to maintaining that tradition of excellence, as evidenced by our decision to move forward with plans to build a world-class outdoor training pool," Jacobs says. "This project will ensure that our program remains competitive at the highest level."

Marsh notes that it wasn't easy to decide to leave Auburn. "I love Auburn and have spent much of my life here as both as student and a coach. Auburn means a great deal to me."

Marsh rebuilt a once strong Auburn program that had gone into a slump after Quick left and led the men's team to the first NCAA title in school history, in any sport, at the 1997 NCAA meet in Minneapolis. He has now coached the Tigers to 10 NCAA titles. The only other Auburn team to win an NCAA title has been the 2006 Auburn women's track and field team.

The men's team has won the last four NCAA titles and the past 10 Southeastern Conference championships. The men's team has gone five consecutive seasons through 41 events without losing a dual meet competition. Marsh's 2004 team set an NCAA meet record with 634 points scored.

David Marsh yells to one of his swimmers at the 2006 NCAA Men's Championship meet in Atlanta. He has been named national coach of the year nine times in his 16 seasons at Auburn. Last season's seniors never lost a competition in their four years at AU.

The women's team has won four of the past five NCAA Championships. Marsh is the only coach in history to lead a men's and women's team to the NCAA swimming title in the same season.

Marsh, a 13-time SEC Coach of the Year, was an All-American backstroker for the Tigers. He told his swimmers on Wednesday afternoon of his plans to leave after the 2006-2007 season. Both teams are expected to have good chances to repeat as NCAA champions.

A plunge into the pool is Auburn's traditional way of celebrating an NCAA swimming title.

Marsh told his team of his plans prior to Wednesday's practice with athletic director Jay Jacobs in attendance.

"David Marsh has established a tradition of excellence at Auburn that is unparalleled," Jacobs says. "Under his leadership, the Auburn swimming and diving programs have become the standard by which others across the country are measured. He is a true Auburn man, and we deeply appreciate his service to the university and the Auburn community.

"We have done everything possible to keep Coach Marsh at Auburn, but he has been given an opportunity to pursue a dream of helping develop America's Olympic hopefuls. We are saddened to see Coach Marsh go, but we realize this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The Tigers cheer a good performance at the 2006 NCCA men's meet.

At the 2004 Olympics, a dozen of his Auburn swimmers competed and five earned medals. He was head coach of the United States team at the 2003 World Championships and Marsh has a long list of other honors on his coaching resume.

During his tenure at Auburn, close to 200 of his swimmers have earned academic All-America honors. Last season 15 members of his men's and women's team won that honors, more than any other team in the country.

The Auburn women's swimming team poses at Toomer's Corner after winning the 2006 NCAA title.

In 2005 he was presented The Walter Gilbert Award, the highest honor Auburn University offers for a former student athlete.

Earlier this year, the Auburn men's team was invited to the White House to be honored by President George Bush for a second straight year. The women's team was also honored by the president this year.

Both Auburn teams are 1-0 to start the current season with dual meet victories over LSU.

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