University of South Carolina head coach Jeff Poppell announced the retirement of head diving coach Dale Schultz on Monday, with the team bringing on Michael Wright as his replacement.
Schultz joined the Gamecocks program in May 2021 after a five-year run at Arkansas, which was his third stint with the program. He also coached the Razorbacks from 1989 until 2000, and then again from 2008 to 2013. Those stops were intermingled with two seasons at the University of Florida, and he’s also spent time coaching at Purdue (1988-89).
After Schultz joined South Carolina prior to last season, his daughter, 2018 NCAA champion Brooke Schultz, transferred to the program in December 2021 from Arkansas.
She went on to win a pair of SEC titles last season in the women’s 1-meter and 3-meter events, and placed ninth on 1-meter and 19th on 3-meter at the 2022 NCAAs. Schultz remains on the South Carolina roster this season as a graduate senior.
“Congratulations to Dale on his retirement after a long and accomplished coaching career that saw him achieve great success every place he’s been,” said Poppell.
Overall, Schultz has more than 30 years of coaching experience, won SEC Diving Coach of the Year honors three times, and coached one NCAA champion and six SEC champions.
“Dale has been a tremendous friend to me over the past 14 years and I will truly miss the fun times shared between us. I can’t thank him enough for leaving the comforts of home last year and agreeing to come to South Carolina to help us in our quest to build something great here in Columbia. I wish him and his family all the best as they begin this new and exciting chapter.”
With Schultz’s retirement, Poppell and the Gamecocks bring on Wright as his replacement effective immediately.
Wright has had two stints as a volunteer assistant coach at Tennessee, his alma mater, and has also served as the head coach of the Tennessee Aquatics Diving Club since 2014.
“We’re very excited to welcome Mike to our coaching staff and have no doubt that he will bring an energy and passion that will help us build upon the great diving tradition that has existed at South Carolina,” said Poppell.
“He’s been an instrumental part of the success of Tennessee’s diving program over the last nine years. In addition, as the head club coach in Knoxville, he has consistently developed some of the top young diving talents in the nation.”
Wright is also a six-time Tennessee High School Diving Coach of the Year and led athletes to the state championships every year from 2016 to 2021.
During his collegiate career as a diver, Wright was an SEC champion with the Volunteers and earned All-American honors at the NCAA level. He also became the first African-American to ever win a title at the USA Diving Winter National Championships in 2010.
Prior to joining Tennessee, Wright helped lead Indian River State College to back-to-back NJCAA Championship titles in 2007 and 2008, sweeping the men’s 1-meter and 3-meter diving events.
Outside of the diving well, he has also become known for his performances on the television show American Ninja Warrior, competing in five seasons with the nickname “Speedo Ninja.”
Wright earned his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee in fine arts in 2011 and then completed his master’s degree in sports psychology in 2013. He and his wife, Hali, have three children: Kylee, Camden and Kobie.
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