Greg Marsden, who led Utah gymnastics to unprecedented national success on the competitive floor and in the stands, has announced his retirement after 40 seasons as the school's head coach. Last Saturday, Utah placed second at the 2015 NCAA Championships, just five one hundredths of a point out of first place.
Megan Marsden, Utah's six-year co-head coach and an assistant for the previous 25 years, will continue in her current role. Tom Farden, Utah's assistant coach for the past five years and the former head coach at Southeast Missouri State, has been elevated to co-head coach.
A press conference announcing Greg Marsden's retirement and introducing Megan Marsden and Farden as Utah's co-head coaches will be held Tuesday, Apr. 21 at 3 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.
"I told Chris Hill, Megan and Tom Farden before the season began of my plans to retire at the end of the season," said Greg Marsden. "I asked them not to say anything because this program is not about me, it's about our incredible student-athletes, and I wanted all the attention focused on them. We've actually been preparing for this transition for the past few years and I feel really secure in leaving this program, which has been my life for 40 years, in the hands of Megan and Tom. There is no one reason I chose to leave now. It just felt right. I still love coming to the gym every day and working with these elite student-athletes, coaches and staff, but I feel the other elements of the job are best suited for someone younger. I have been incredibly fortunate to spend my entire career here at Utah and to receive support unprecedented anywhere in the country from our administration and our amazing fans. I am especially grateful to Megan, my wife and partner, and to Chris Hill, my friend and mentor."
Marsden retires as the winningest coach in college gymnastics history with a 1,048-208-8 record and his 10 national championships is tied for the most by any women's gymnastics team. Hired in the 1975-76 season as a graduate assistant, Marsden took his very first team to the AIAW National Championship, where Utah finished 10th. He has never missed a national championship, with Utah qualifying for an unprecedented 40-straight years, including all 34 NCAA Championships (the only program to do so). The Red Rocks have advanced into the Super Six 19 times in the 23 years under the format, including this season's runner-up finish.
Marsden's teams have placed in the top five in the country 29 times, in the top three 23 times and in the top two 19 times. Utah gymnasts have won 25 individual national championships, including the 2015 NCAA uneven bar title by Georgia Dabritz, and 367 All-America awards.
A seven-time National Coach of the Year recipient, he (along with Megan Marsden) has been voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the past two seasons. The Red Rocks won back-to-back Pac-12 Championships in 2014 and 2015. The 2015 NCAA North Central Region Coach of the Year was also awarded to the duo.
"The only way to place a positive spin on Greg Marsden's retirement is that he is leaving the program in the very capable hands of Megan (Marsden) and Tom Farden," said Utah director of athletics Dr. Chris Hill. "Megan and Tom are as invested in and passionate about Utah gymnastics as Greg is and they are proven coaches in their own right. Greg Marsden is not only a legendary coach, he has been an incredible advocate for the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, the sport of gymnastics, and most of all, his student-athletes over the past 40 years. His passion, work ethic, vision and relentless drive to be the best have never wavered and I will miss him personally as well as professionally. He has been a great friend, resource and confidant for many years now."
A passionate promoter of his sport, Marsden has created an unrivaled atmosphere at home meets, where the Red Rocks own every gymnastics attendance record and have led all women's sports in attendance five times, including the last three years. They broke their own NCAA single-meet (16,019) and season (14,950) attendance records in 2015 and received national attention through features in the New York Times and on CBS This Morning. Since 2010, the Red Rocks have averaged more than 14,000 fans a meet in the Huntsman Center, and they have averaged 11,000-plus since 1990.
Marsden's teams also performed well in the classroom. The 2014 Red Rocks had the best cumulative grade point average of any gymnastics team in the nation, a 3.7827. He has coached eight CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and two Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
Utah's only head coach for his first 34 seasons, Marsden has shared the title since 2010 with his wife Megan Marsden.
Megan Marsden, a former Utah NCAA champion gymnast, is in her 31st year on the Utah coaching staff. She has a 132-47-2 record in six seasons as co-head coach and was named the 2011, 2012 and 2015 NCAA Region Head Coach of the Year. She was also voted the 2014 and 2015 Pac-12 Coach of the Year (with Greg Marsden).
As a gymnast or coach, she has participated in all 10 of Utah's record-tying national championships and 35 of its record 40 national championship appearances. She transitioned from competitor to coach at her alma mater in 1985 after leading Utah to four national championships as a 12-time first-team All-American and three-time NCAA champion from 1981-84. Leading up to her 2010 appointment as co-head coach, she spent 12 years as an assistant (1985-96) and 13 years as an associate (1997-2009) coach.
"I have spent the last 35 years with Greg as an athlete or a coach--not to mention as his spouse--and it is very difficult for me to imagine coming to work every day without him by my side," said Megan Marsden. "We knew this day would come, given our age difference, and I am grateful that Greg has prepared me well for the rigors of being a head coach. I also appreciate Greg's vision in hiring Tom Farden and recognizing that Tom and I would be a good team once he retired. Tom shares our belief system, philosophy and coaching style and I am proud to share the title of head coach with him."
Stepping in as co-head after five years as a Utah assistant is Farden, who has been Utah's lead recruiter in addition to coaching the bars and assisting with floor. He coached Dabritz to the 2015 NCAA uneven bar championship and a runner-up finish on bars in 2013. He has 18 years of NCAA coaching experience, including six seasons as the head coach at Southeast Missouri State, where he compiled a 70-46 record from 2004-09 and was named the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional Coach of the Year.
The Redhawks climbed as high as No. 22 in the national polls in 2008. In 2009, Farden directed SEMO to a 14-3 record and a Midwest Independent Conference championship. He was a four-time MIC Coach of the Year from 2006-09.
In 2010, Farden went to Arkansas as an assistant coach. In his only season before leaving for Utah, the Razorbacks placed 11th at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
He began his gymnastics coaching career at the club level in his home state of Minnesota. From 1992-96, he was the owner/coach of Spectrum Training Center in Anoka, Minn., and from 1996-99, he worked as the team coach for TAGS Gymnastics in Minneapolis.
"While I enjoyed success as the head coach at Southeast Missouri State, I felt the only way I could reach my full potential was to learn from the best, and Greg and Megan Marsden are the best," said Farden. "I have admired them and their program for many years and the past five years with them has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I have developed a love for this program, this school and this community and I want to give back. While I will miss Greg's guidance and support, I am excited to join Megan as the coach of the University of Utah gymnastics team. It is the best job in college gymnastics and I am grateful to Greg, Megan and Chris Hill for making my dream come true."