June 28, 2013
AUBURN - John Hargis, a 12-time All-American and member of Auburn's first NCAA Championship swimming & diving team, has been named associate head coach of the Tigers, head coach Brett Hawke announced Friday.
A 1999 Auburn graduate and a gold medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Hargis returns to the Plains after serving as head coach at Penn State for the last five seasons.
"My family and I couldn't be more excited to return to Auburn," Hargis said. "I'm really looking forward to working with Brett and being able to be a part of the excellence that is Auburn swimming. It's going to be fun to be back in that environment. It's great to return to a university that provides such great support for its student-athletes and their success. We really couldn't be happier to be back."
Over five years at Penn State, Hargis built the Nittany Lions into a strong program in the Big Ten. His final Penn State team broke 15 school records while 39 women's swimmers and 16 men moved into the school's all-time top-10. A total of 20 Penn Staters participated in the 2013 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships with the men's and women's teams combining for 20 All-America honors. Hargis also led his swimmers to success in the long-course pool as 34 of his athletes competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha.
"I'm excited to welcome John Hargis back to the Auburn family," Hawke said. "He has been successful at the highest level both as a swimmer and a coach, and we couldn't be happier to have him return as our associate head coach of the men's and women's swim teams."
Hargis coached his athletes to a total of 74 All-America honors in his five years and saw his Nittany Lions earn numerous top-25 finishes at the NCAA Championships. He also coached on the international level as an assistant for Team USA at the 2011 World University Games, helping the Americans to 13 medals in the event.
Prior to his time as a head coach at Penn State, Hargis spent two seasons as head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock. During that time, he was also the head coach and the chief executive officer of the Little Rock Arkansas Dolphins swim club. In that role, he directed the program to the overall team state long course title in 2007, winning both the men's and women's team trophy for only the second time in program history. He also led both the men's and women's teams to the overall team state short course crown in 2008, securing the Dolphins their first back-to-back combined state titles in their 48 year history.
He joined UALR as an assistant coach in November 2006 before being elevated to head coach in February 2007. While heading the Trojans' program, which competes in the Sun Belt Conference, the women's team was recognized by the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America for having a team GPA of over 3.0 in both the fall and spring semesters.
Hargis also spent three seasons as an assistant with the Nittany Lions, where he was a part of the staff that led the women's team to back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 2005 and 2006. He coached several NCAA, Olympic Trials and U.S. Nationals qualifiers and also directed all aspects of men's recruiting. He also assisted with several other aspects and day-to-day operations of the program, including the creation and implementation of a training regimen for both the men's and women's sprinters, breaststroke and IM swimmers.
Prior to his first stint at Penn State, Hargis was an assistant coach at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas for two years.. He was the head age group coach for the Raleigh Swimming Association club team for two years prior to his stint at UNLV, and served for three years as an assistant to the athletic director at Auburn prior to that.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Hargis is a 1999 graduate of Auburn with a degree in health promotion/sports management.
Hargis is one of the most decorated swimmers to ever come out of the state of Arkansas and was part of Auburn's first national championship team in 1997. A member of the 200 medley relay team that broke NCAA, U.S. Open and NCAA Meet records in 1997, Hargis was also a part of the NCAA Champion 400 medley relay team in 1997. A three-time SEC champion in the 100 butterfly, he also held the SEC record in that event and was a 12-time All-American. He owns an Olympic Gold Medal, which he earned at the 1996 Atlanta Games as part of the U.S. 400 medley relay team, and he also won the 100 fly at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996. Hargis was inducted into the Arkansas State Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001 and was selected as one of Arkansas' 100 Greatest Athletes of all-time.
Hargis and his wife, Lauren, have two sons, John and Nathan, and a daughter, Faith.
He replaces Frank Bradley, who left Auburn in May to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater, Florida State.