Marsh announced on Wednesday he is taking a job coaching an Olympic development program in Charlotte, N.C., at the request of the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming. He will work with elite swimmers there and will also direct one of the nation's top swimming clubs.
Marsh, who has won 10 NCAA titles for Auburn, says it was a tough decision to make, but one of the reasons he feels better about the decision is the possibility that Auburn will hire one of the world's most respected swimming coaches to take his place.
Richard Quick, who was Marsh's head coach at Auburn, directed the Tiger program from 1978-82. Auburn announced on Wednesday it has hired him as an adviser to the program and Marsh is hoping that Quick will be hired as the new head coach after the 2006-2007 season to keep Auburn's national championship program in high gear.
"Richard is who I modeled my coaching career after," says Marsh, who developed into a world class backstroker under his development. "He is going to be like me with a lot more energy. He is a better person than a coach and I hope that is something that Auburn always looks for.
"Richard Quick is the kind of guy who will have great ideas," Marsh adds. "Hopefully, he will consider stepping right on deck and directing the program."
Marsh notes the last thing he wants to do is hurt the Auburn swimming program, which he has built into the nation's best. "I believe, also, this is a time when Auburn when can continue in full stride," he says. "We have a tremendous staff. I won't have to pillage the staff and take them with me because this is a completely different opportunity."
Commenting on Quick, who has coached teams to 12 NCAA titles, Marsh points out, "He is ready, I think, to get back on the deck and would be a tremendous asset for the program. Let me say this. I think our current staff could do it. We have a staff right now, the only thing missing is a big national name--Dorsey (Tierney-Walker), Brian (Barnes), and Brett Hawke has come back, a phenomenal coach. Jeff Shaffer is the best diving coach in the country. We have the best men's diving class in the country. It is already there. I think adding a national name will continue to keep all of the elements needed to keep this thing going."
Marsh told his seniors of his plans before announcing it to the entire team on Wednesday prior to practice.
The 2004-2005 Auburn team colored its hair blond for team unity before going out and winning the national title.
James Wike, one of three senior captains for the 2006-2007 men's team, says, "We hate to see Coach Marsh leave, but know this is a great opportunity for him and his family. We as a team hope to make this a very memorable year for Coach Marsh. I look forward to working with David as he helps put our team in position to win the national title in March. We want to try to make sure David gets the sendoff he deserves and goes out on top."
Women's team All-American senior Hayley Piersol says, "Having competed on the international circuit and with USA Swimming, I know the prestige of the position that has been created for David. It is an honor for him to be selected for this and I am happy that he will be able to continue his goal of training the best American swimmers."
Marsh says he is "part of the fabric of the program" and will continue to help support the program after he has moved on to Charlotte.
"From a college coaching perspective, I feel like the luckiest guy alive," he says. "I have, I think, the best job in college coaching. The pool is one of the best in the country. We are going to get an outdoor pool in the near future that is a recruiting magnet. I have a school that I 100 percent believe in and bleed orange and blue so when the USOC came together with this club (Mecklenburg) and USA Swimming and put together a program that was basically customized for me at first I said, ‘no thank you.' They just kept adding, not financial things, but more opportunity to it.
"There is a big void in USA swimming right now. One of the things that has happened now at the Olympic level our best swimmers in the USA are coming from the post-graduate group. It used to be the college group that would produce the best swimmers in the world. It has moved to post-graduates now--people like Margaret Hoelzer and Mark Gangloff, our swimmers here, they are the best swimmers. The college swimmers are certainly every now and then--a Kirsty Coventry (AU Olympic gold medal winner) or Cesar Cielo. There isn't a post-grad program in the country that really takes care of those kind of athletes comprehensively.
"A town like Charlotte, a team like this Mecklenburg team which has 650 year-around competitive swimmers with the networking connections and the history that they have, and along with the USOC's backing and the USA Swimming's, I would say insistence if that is all possible, I had to look at it and consider it. As I went further and further down the tracks, as I told my team a little while earlier, whenever you make decisions you consider things in whole. In whole, this seems like an opportunity that's time has come for me.
The Auburn women's swimming team celebrates its 2006 national championship won on the last race of the meet.
"The team handled it very well," Marsh adds. "I think they heard all of the rumors. The Gator Nation has been trying to push out as many bad rumors as they can about me and Jay (athletic director Jay Jacobs) having fist fights and this bad blood and all of that, and how I was fired because of rules and all of that. The thing that is important that the team understands my commitment to doing all I can. What I am asking them to do is be that commitment.
"In that room today was Dave Denniston, who is in California now but back for alumni weekend. He is in a wheelchair making his way back to Auburn to be here for this weekend. He is a guy that I can point to and say, ‘He is out in California on his website is doing all he can for Auburn swimming.' I will continue to do all I can for Auburn swimming wherever I go. In this case, Charlotte, N.C.
"There was enough of a positive emphasis on the meeting with the team that I think they--I won't say they felt good about it, I hope they didn't feel too good about it...In reality, they understand a little bit. They love my family, too, and they love Auburn swimming, too, and we are all going to make this happen in an exciting way. To be able even discuss, even in part, Richard Quick's name does help with the thoughts of maintaining the pendulum pushed all the way over our way."
Commenting on Quick, Marsh says, "I hope we pursue him with everything we can. He is my mentor. He is the reason I am in coaching. He is, I think, if not the best coach in the country one of the best. He would bring fresh new energy...The deck would be better with him on it than it is right now. I don't think it is a step backward, it is a step forward.
"What he also brings, he has always loved Auburn, too, so if it works out it would be fantastic. If it doesn't, you are going to have he and I and Dorsey Tierney-Walker and Brian Barnes all reaching out to the best people there are out there to be here."
The men's team celebrates after winning the 2005 SEC title. Auburn has won 10 straight conference men's championships.
Senior All-American Bryan Lundquist says he wishes Marsh well. "Over the past three years with the help of Coach Marsh I have made tremendous strides in the pool. Recently I was named to the 2007 U.S. World University Games roster and I have to thank David for his commitment to me and my teammates. David has trained some of the best swimmers in the world and he is deserving of this opportunity that has been presented to him."
Lundquist and the Auburn men's team will be competing for a fifth consecutive NCAA title. The women's team is the defending champion, too, and has won four of the last five NCAA meets.