CARBONDALE — Head coach Rick Walker announced that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, after 32 years with the Southern Illinois University swimming and diving program. He joined the Salukis in 1987 and became the head coach of the men's team in 1992 and added women's head coaching responsibilities in 2005.
"Rick Walker has done an outstanding job during his long tenure here at the University," said Director of Athletics Jerry Kill. "He's produced great swimmers, great student-athletes, his athletes have always been involved in the community and at the ballgames, and have been a reflection of him and his love for the University. We're very appreciative of the time and efforts he's put in and wish him nothing but luck down the road, and now it's our job to go find his successor."
Walker has coached 237 athletes to individual and relay conference titles and an additional 209 athletes to all-conference honors in his 26 seasons as head coach. Eight of his swimmers have went on to compete at the Olympics.
"Coach Walker has established himself as a Saluki legend over the last 32-plus years," said Senior Woman Administrator Liz Jarnigan, who directly oversees the swimming and diving program. "His student-athletes have consistently achieved in the classroom, the community and the pool. As a result, he has helped to set the Saluki standard of excellence for the entire department. While he certainly deserves to retire after his years of service to SIU, he will absolutely be missed. We wish him the very best."
A 13-time conference Coach of the Year, he is a three-time Eastern Independent Championships Coach of the Year (1993-95), two-time National Independent Championship Coach of the Year (1996, 97), four-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1995, 96, 98, 2002), two-time MVC Invitational Coach of the Year (2004, 05) and two-time Mid-American Coach of the Year.