According to the athletic department statement, assistant coach Christy Garth will work as UNC's interim head coach while a national search is conducted to find a new head coach. During this time, assistant coach Mike Blum will coach the men’s team and assistant coach Sean Quinn will oversee the women’s team.
In his time as head coach, DeSelm led UNC’s men’s and women’s teams to 17 top-three ACC finishes and 16 top-30 finishes at the NCAA Championships and trained 53 All-Americas and 26 ACC champions.
In the statement, athletic director Bubba Cunningham thanked DeSelm for the "significant contributions" DeSelm and his family have made to the program.
“Rich has positively impacted UNC for 32 years as an accomplished student-athlete, team captain, assistant coach and, for the last dozen years, head coach," Cunningham said. "Rich has trained and mentored hundreds upon hundreds of student-athletes who have succeeded in the pool, and have excelled in the classroom and our community.
He said he applauds DeSelm's selfless decision to think of the impact his personal battle may have on the time needed to direct the swimming and diving program.
"I know Rich will be Carolina Swimming and Diving’s biggest fan as we move forward," he said.
DeSelm thanked the swimmers and divers he has coached.
“I am proud of our teams’ and our individual swimmers’ and divers’ many accomplishments," he said. "I love striving to reach our goals and appreciate all who worked hard to achieve their best. The most rewarding aspect of this job, which I will greatly miss, is working with student-athletes as they strive to excel, in and out of the pool."
DeSelm earned All-America honors at UNC before spending 15 seasons as an assistant, helping the Tar Heels win 14 ACC titles. From 1993-2000 he served as the head coach at Davidson, where the Wildcats won seven Southern States championships. From 2000 to 2006 he was an assistant coach at Florida. He returned to Chapel Hill as the head coach designate in 2006, and the next year the UNC women won the ACC title.
From 2010-12, he steered the UNC men to three straight top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships. The women's team finished 12th at the NCAAs in 2013 as one of eight finishes in the top 20 under DeSelm.
Sue Walsh, an 11-time NCAA champion swimmer and longtime member of the Rams Club executive staff, said in the statement that it's difficult to see DeSelm's coaching career be cut short due to a health concern, but that he should be proud of all that he has accomplished.
“So many of his student-athletes have developed into outstanding young men and women who impact their communities in a positive way because of the lessons of integrity, determination and toughness that they learned through Rich’s leadership and example," Walsh said. "Rich focused on developing the full person, not just the champion swimmer or diver. His presence on the deck will be sorely missed, but his legacy will continue to impact all those who represent UNC Swimming & Diving now and in the future.”
DeSelm said he is honored to have served the University as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach.
“I will always do whatever I can to support UNC and, specifically, the swimming and diving teams and coaches," he said. "Carolina Swimming & Diving can and will thrive in the near future. My family and I have been blessed to have had a wonderful experience here and look forward to watching the Tar Heels again have great success in the pool.”
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