Alabama Names Eric McIlquham New Head Coach

TUSCALOOSA, Ala., August 6. UNIVERSITY of Alabama athletics director Mal Moore announced today that Eric McIlquham is returning to the Crimson Tide as head coach of the men and women's swimming and diving programs. He replaces Don Wagner, who stepped down last month.

"Eric is one of the nation's top young coaches," Moore said. "His return to Alabama will make us better and help return us to the nation's elite. Having served on this staff as an assistant, he is well aware of what it takes to compete in the Southeastern Conference and is committed to making our program a success at the highest level."

McIlquham will be joined at Alabama by another former Tide assistant. Sonya Porter returns to the Alabama staff as an assistant coach after two years at Louisville.

"This is something Sonya and I have always talked about," McIlquham said. "Coming back to Alabama, where we went to school and really started our coaching careers was something we have always wanted to do. I have two main career goals, the first is to be the head Olympic coach and the other was to be head coach at Alabama."

McIlquham, a Dalton, Mass. native, returns to Tuscaloosa following four years as head coach at West Virginia University. His Mountaineer teams broke a combined 28 school records, produced the men's first ever Big East champions, and gained the first individual NCAA appearance in 14 seasons, all in his first four years. In 2002, his men's squad produced a winning record for the first time since becoming a member of the Big East conference, while 11 of his swimmers garnered all-Big East honors, including five in 2002.

Before WVU, McIlquham spent three years as an assistant coach at the University of Virginia, helping transform the Cavaliers into a nationally recognized sprint program, leading them win back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference titles in 1998 and 1999. He coached 18 swimmers to 52 All-American honors during his tenure at Virginia. During his career, McIlquham has been part of numerous elite swimming programs, coaching four top 10 NCAA teams and eight top 20 teams. Internationally, McIlquham, served as the head coach of the Egyptian National team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A graduate of Oakland University in 1992, McIlquham received a degree in psychology and was the recipient of the NCAA post-graduate scholarship award during his senior year. The Dalton, Mass., native received his masters in exercise physiology from Alabama in 1994.

As a swimmer for Oakland from 1989-92, McIlquham was a four-time All-American and a four-time NCAA Division II Champion. He served as team captain for two seasons and was an academic All-American his senior year. He was inducted into the Oakland University Hall of Honor last April.

He is the current NCAA II record-holder in three events – the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 200 free relay. He held the NCAA 100 butterfly record for nearly a decade before it was eclipsed during the 2002 season.

Porter comes to Alabama after a two-year stint at Louisville, where she was head coach of the men's and women's swimming and diving teams. A 1996 Alabama graduate and a 1993 graduate of the University of Canberra (Australia), Porter went to Louisville after a year as assistant coach under McIlquham at West Virginia. Prior to her stint at WVU, she spent three years as an assistant coach at Northwestern. She was a volunteer coach at Colorado State University for the 1996-97 season and a student assistant coach at Alabama from 1994-96.

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