Rutgers announced firing of gymnastics head coach
Head coach Louis Levine dismissed for team by athletic director Pat Hobbs
On Tuesday, the Rutgers Athletic Department announced Rutgers gymnastics head coach Louis Levine will not be returning next year.
“Rutgers is deeply appreciative of coach Levine’s many years of dedicated service and commitment to the success of our student-athletes. After careful consideration, however, a decision was made to seek new leadership,” said athletic director Pat Hobbs, according to scarletknights.com.
A former member of the University of Michigan’s vault team, Levine took over the Scarlet Knight reigns after the 2011 season, replacing longtime head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton, who retired after 25 seasons.
It was an uneven road under Levine’s seven years at the helm. During the first three seasons, Rutgers consistently improved, tallying scores of 193.850, 193.925 and 195.275 at the Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championships.
In 2013, the Knights even set a new program record with their 195.975 performance on Senior Day. Their 194.740 Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) was also the best in program history.
But things started going south after Rutgers joined the Big Ten Conference in 2015. In his fourth year as head coach, Levine led Rutgers to a last-place finish in the Big Ten Championships with a 193.125 total score — the team’s lowest total since the second week of the season.
In 2016, Levine and the Knights bounced back with four first-place finishes over the course of the season and a ninth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships with their 194.775 — a stark improvement from the season prior which earned Levine a two-year extension through 2018.
A year later, Rutgers regressed a bit, coming in first place just once in a meet at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). At the Big Ten Championships hosted inside the RAC, the Knights had the home-field advantage but squandered that golden opportunity, finishing in ninth for the second consecutive year totaling a 194.700.
Picking things up this year, Rutgers had a nearly identical season as 2017, failing to reach a score of 195 or higher and finishing in first place one time, once again at the RAC.
The Knights fared no better at the Big Ten Championships, coming in ninth place for a third straight year with a subtly worse score than the year before of 194.400, seemingly reaching a plateau.
And although seniors Libby Groden and Makenzey Shank and freshman Belle Huang qualified individually for the NCAA Regionals hosted at Penn State this Saturday, it wasn’t enough for Levine to keep his job.
For now, assistant coach Anne Meade will take over as the interim head coach until Hobbs finds a replacement, a job search that will begin immediately and be national in size.
For updates on the Rutgers gymnastics team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.