Northwestern Announces Staff Changes

EVANSTON, Ill., Aug. 14 NORTHWESTERN University announced that it hired Alik Sarkisian as the new men's and women's head diving coach and Nichole Ellis as an assistant coach with the women's swimming program.

Elllis comes to Northwestern following two seasons as an assistant coach for both the men's and women's programs at the University of Alabama. There, she served as the recruiting coordinator in addition to planning and organizing team travel and the Crimson Tide's inaugural Cystic Fibrosis swimming fundraiser. Fifteen school records were broken and three conference titles were won on her watch in Tuscaloosa.

She helped coach the men's 2004-05 breaststroke NCAA champion and 2005-06 runner-up in addition to the women's 2004-05 200 breast NCAA runner-up during her stint with Alabama.

"Nichole just won us all over on her visit here," head coach Jimmy Tierney said. "She will bring an incredible amount of positive energy to the team and to our recruiting. I have no doubt she will make an immediate impact on our program and we can't wait to start working with her."

Prior to joining the Tide, Ellis served as the head men's and women's swimming coach at Butler University for two seasons and as the top assistant coach at IUPUI for one year.

While at Butler, 10 school records fell and she coached one Horizon League champion. She twice was named Butler University Coach of the Month and her team was ranked No. 1 in the nation as a CSCAA Academic All-America Team in 2003.

In addition to her coaching success, Ellis is an accomplished recruiter. At IUPUI, she initiated the program's largest incoming class and she also helped bring in Alabama's largest class since a coaching change several years ago.

Active in club coaching as well, Ellis was an assistant Senior and College Team coach with the Indy Dolphins Swim Club from 2001-03 and the associate head coach with the Indy Swim Fit Masters Team beginning in 2004.

A 2001 graduate of IUPUI with a degree in secondary education and a minor in sport related health, Ellis was a four-year letterwinner and two-time All-Mid-Con Conference honoree. She won the 1998-99 conference title in the 100 breast, earned six school records and was named the team's MVP in 2000 and 2001.

Ellis earned her Master's degree in sports administration at Butler in July of 2004.

Sarkisian joins the Wildcats after one year as the head diving coach at the Victory Diving Club in Oklahoma City. He has a wealth of head coaching experience, beginning his career as the USSR National Team coach from 1980-1990 before becoming the National Team coach in his native Armenia from 1991-93.

He then moved to the United States where he was an assistant with Rose Bowl Aquatics in Pasadena, Calif., from 1993-98 before becoming the head coach with the Trojan Dive Club and an assistant coach at USC from 1998-2001.

Following his stint with the Trojans, Sarkisian became the director and head coach at the USA Diving Regional Training Center from 2001-05.

Sarkisian has earned a number of coaching accomplishments within USA and international diving, most notably serving as the USA National Team Coach for the 2003 and 2005 Pan-Am Games. He has coached at numerous FINA Grand Prix events and Olympic trials and training camps. In 1996, he was Armenia's National Team coach at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

A 13-time Armenian national champion, Sarkisian competed internationally for the USSR. He graduated in 1980 with professional level training in sports science and education from the USSR State University of Physical Education in Yerevan, Armenia.

"We are very excited to turn over the reins of the diving program to a very talented coach," Tierney said. "Alik has the skills and motivation to continue the rise of NU diving in the Big Ten and NCAA. We truly believe we have one of the most talented diving coaches in the world here to coach our divers."

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