Georgia associate head coach Jerry Champer to transition to chief operating officer role
It was a year of transition for the Georgia swimming and diving program following the retirement of Coach Bulldog of 46 years. Jack Bauerle. Among the changes that will reshape the future of the program is a new role for the associate head coach jerry champer.
Champer, 56, was on staff at the University of Georgia for 19 seasons (plus two more as a volunteer assistant). For the past 9 seasons, Champer has been an associate head coach.
Beginning next season, Champer will serve as director of program operations: a role common to college swimming and diving programs, but new to Georgia.
The role of Director of Operations is more of an administrative role that includes responsibilities such as managing team budgets, coordinating team and rookie travel, developing itineraries, managing NCAA compliance and liaison work between the program and other parts of the Athletics Department such as equipment managers, training staff, compliance, marketing and sports communications.
Champer will continue his work overseeing the University of Georgia swim camps. He will also be involved in coaching the Athens Bulldog Affiliate Swim Club during the summers.
“I look forward to taking on my new role and am excited to continue working with athletes and staff supporting them as best I can in a new way,” Champer said.
Although the move coincides with the retirement of his longtime boss, Champer says it was a change they had discussed before Bauerle’s retirement.
Champer is part of a Bulldog power couple of sorts: His wife Lu Harris-Champer retired as the school’s softball head coach at the end of the 2021 season. Georgia for 21 seasons. She led the Bulldogs to a pair of SEC regular season titles and the 2014 SEC Tournament Championship. She also took the Bulldogs to the Women’s College World Series five times.
The Bauerle retired, the program was split by gender, with Stefanie Williams Moreno take over as female head coach and Neil Versfeld take over as the men’s head coach.
This decision by Champer was announced last month when Fernando Rodriguez was hired as a women’s program assistant. Under current NCAA rules, a mixed swimming and diving program is allowed to have four assistant coaches, but separate programs are only allowed to have one each. With Champer and Brian Smith as associate head coaches last year, Rodriguez’s hiring implied that at least one would not return in the same capacity next season.
Although much of Champer’s coaching legacy was built through his work at Georgia, he also enjoyed success in previous stops. He was head coach of Western Illinois from 1994 to 2001. During that run, he was named Mid-Continent Conference Men’s Coach of the Year four times and Women’s Coach of the Year twice. , with the programs winning five conference titles combined. After moving to the Southern States Conference, Champer won two more Male Coach of the Year honors, as well as two more conference titles, and he finished his run with the Leathernecks with a Midwest Championship title. in 2001 and a ninth Coach of the Year honor in 2012. He was inducted into the WIU Athletics Hall of Fame as the school’s most successful coach.
Champer graduated from Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 1989, where he was a letter winner for four years, team captain (1987-88) and All-American in 1987. After graduation, he served as an assistant coach for the Eagles for two seasons. before leaving for western Illinois.