Dick Kimball, who has coached Michigan”s diving programs for the past 43 years, announced his resignation yesterday, effective at the end of the 2001-2002 athletic season.
“I just felt like it was the right time,” Kimball said.
Kimball is the last remaining member of Michigan”s athletic department who was hired by former Athletic Director Fritz Crisler, who left the position in 1968.
“We”re a very close family at the pool and Dick has talked on and off over the last couple of years about his future and what he wants to have happen and when,” Michigan women”s swimming coach Jim Richardson said. “So this decision was made known to all of us some time ago.”
In discussing his decision, Kimball noted several factors which led him to leave the University. First and foremost, he noted how much more difficult the recruiting process has become in recent years. Whereas in the past, he would sign many walk-ons who attended his camps, recruiting has now become a year-long struggle.
“I still enjoy the coaching part very much,” Kimball said, but he noted that “it”s a lot more difficult than it used to be.”
During his career, Kimball coached nine swimmers to Olympic medals and served as an assistant coach for the U.S. National Team five times. He also received numerous honors from the Big Ten and NCAA for his work, which included five NCAA championships.
“Not only are we losing a great diving coach with the longest longevity in the sport of collegiate diving, but we are also losing a real good friend of swimming,” Michigan men”s swimming coach John Urbanchek said in a statement released by the athletic department. “All swimmers appreciate his dedication and I”m sure they will miss his joking personality and presence at the pool on a daily basis.”
Kimball coached just the men”s team for his first 16 years at Michigan before assuming control of the women”s team 27 years ago.
“If you compare what he is in diving to other sports, he”s the Vince Lombardi, he”s the Dean Smith, he”s the Bear Bryant in his sport,” Richardson said. “He will go down in history as arguably the greatest diving coach ever.
Kimball”s name is well-known throughout the diving world. Many coaches from programs that compete with Michigan understand what the sport is losing.
“Dick Kimball is the true meaning of loyalty and giving you everything he has in his life to offer,” Florida diving coach Donnie Craine said. “He is the greatest inspiration in my coaching career and only second to my father in the inspiration of my life. You will never find a greater man or coach than Dick Kimball.”
While Kimball may be leaving the University, he made it very clear that his heart still lies with Michigan.
“I bleed blue and yellow,” he said. “It hurts me just as much to see the football team get beat as it does anyone else.”