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July 22, 2004

The University of Louisiana at Monroe today named Sean Weddell, former assistant swim coach at Clemson and two other universities, as head swim coach to succeed John Pittington, who died earlier this year.

Weddell's appointment was announced by Traci Murphy, senior women's administrator at the university, and is subject to the approval of the University of Louisiana System Board.

The new ULM coach has been the assistant swim coach and recruiting coordinator at Clemson University for the past two years. Earlier he was assistant women's coach at the University of Akron and assistant men's coach at Southern Illinois University.

"We're very excited to have Sean as our new coach," says Murphy, who conducted the search for a new coach on behalf of incoming Athletic Director Bobby Staub. "We selected him from among several outstanding applicants. He has some excellent division one experience as a coach and recruiter and we are sure he will continue the progress that our swimming program experienced under Coach Pittington."

Faculty Athletic Committee Chairman Walter Creekmore, who also interviewed Waddell, called the new coach "highly qualified. He has excellent credentials along with great enthusiasm and social skills."

Weddell, who becomes only the third ULM swim coach since the sport was introduced at the university in 1980, said he was "elated" to be named the new coach.

"I consider this a terrific opportunity," he continued. "I believe that with the admission of the university to full membership in the Sun Belt Conference, great things can happen in ULM swimming. The potential is unlimited and it's an honor and privilege for me to get the chance to continue the tradition that Coach Pittington helped establish."

The new Indian coach handled all aspects of recruiting at Clemson, including the budget, and was responsible for all equipment purchases and maintenance. He coached Clemson's first NCAA qualifier in five years and first Atlantic Coast Conference champion and all-American in 15 years. With his help, both the men's and women's teams ranked in the top 40 in the NCAA meet, and the men registered their highest victory total in the 52-year history of the program.

In his year at Akron, the women's team broke 17 team records and had the school's first Mid-American Conference individual champion. At Southern Illinois, he helped the men's team go undefeated in dual meets in 2000-01 and achieve a top 30 national ranking in 1999-2000.

Prior to entering collegiate coaching, Weddell was head swim coach at Columbus East High School in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., in 1997-99, coaching the school's first all-state swimmer in 10 years.

Weddell, 35, is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in organizational communications and was a member of the Wildcat swim team.

He is married to the former Melissa Schnuck of Yorktown, Ind.

Pittington, who died March 30, was coach at ULM for 21 years.

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Gained a swim coach, but lost our golf coach today to Nevada.
You win some and lose some.
Merritt will tee it up at Nevada next season
ULM golf coach cites family for his move back to West
Paul Letlow

July 24, 2004

The chance to work closer to home was too good to pass up for Louisiana-Monroe golf coach Richard Merritt.

After leading the Indians to their first Southland Conference golf team title and an NCAA berth in 2004, Merritt has resigned at ULM and accepted the head coaching position at Nevada.

"It has been an emotional roller coaster," Merritt told The News-Star in a story first reported Friday at http://www.thenewsstar.com. "The hardest thing to do was picking up the phone to tell the players I was leaving."

The 2004 ULM golf team reached the NCAA West Regional Championship, concluding the finest season in school history. With a squad comprising of freshmen and sophomores, the Indians finished in the top 10 in 10 of 13 tournaments that included one title, two seconds, two thirds and a fourth-place finish.

"It took six years to build," Merritt said. "But it was worth every moment."

Merritt, a Fresno native, said the chance to live closer to family members residing in California played a major role in the decision. Merritt and his wife Shannon have two sons, Richard (6) and Matthew (2).

"Ultimately, the decision was not financial but about family," Merritt said. "We have the chance to live 41/2 hours away from our families. Our kids can see their grandparents and aunts and uncles more often."

ULM golfer Taylor Palmer said that he was sorry to see Merritt leave but happy for him personally.

"He invested a lot of time in us to make us better in any way he could," Palmer said. "It's a hard thing to swallow, but he's a great coach who has been loyal to me and my teammates.

"The world of athletics is a rat race. Things happen every day and you have to take care of your family. I respect what he did. It's a tough pill to swallow, but I have respect for him."

Merritt replaces Tom Duncan, who resigned his position earlier this summer when he purchased Wolf Run Golf Club from the Nevada athletics department. Merritt will begin his duties in Reno in early August.

"Rich has great experience at the Division I level," said Cindy Fox, senior associate athletics director and chair of the search committee at Nevada. "He has been an assistant in the Pac-10 and the WAC and for the past six years as a head coach at ULM. He is a great fit for Nevada and we're excited to have him join the Wolf Pack family."

At ULM, Merritt developed a reputation as a tireless recruiter and fund-raiser. This past year, he raised more than $50,000 for the program, the most successful golf fund-raiser in school history.

He has produced numerous all-conference players and had one player earn Academic All-America honors in 2000 and 2001 while at ULM.

Merritt has also served as an instructor at junior golf camps in Oregon (1997) and Arkansas (2002-03) and helped with several junior golf clinics in Monroe. He served on United Way and March of Dimes campaigns, the city of Monroe Clean-up Project, and been involved with the College Golf Fellowship and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Besides chairing his own Outback Golf Classic in Monroe the past six years, he has served on the board of directors for the Cotton States Invitational in Monroe.

"Rich Merritt had done a terrific job as our golf coach and we're very grateful to him," ULM's outgoing athletics director Bruce Hanks said in a release. "He has not only attracted some excellent young golfers to our program but has also worked hard to build community involvement and support for ULM golf."

Merritt took over the ULM program in 1998 after serving as an assistant golf coach at Oregon State in 1997-98. Prior to his work at OSU, Merritt spent two years as an assistant at San Jose State in 1995-96.

Merritt is a 1996 graduate of San Jose State and was a member of the golf team there from 1993-95.
That was a fast hire by Staub. I don't expect the golf position to be vacant for too long.
According to the article, Traci Murphy led the search and hiring of the Swim Coach not Stuab.
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