SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Megan Marsden, one of the most iconic names in the history of collegiate gymnastics, announced her retirement from coaching in a team meeting today. Marsden, a member of Utah’s gymnastics coaching staff since 1985, plans to continue her involvement with Utah athletics as an ambassador for the department.
“Megan Marsden is and always will be a legend,” said Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan. “I have been so privileged to spend this last year with her and witness her compassion and care for all of her student-athletes. Utah gymnastics, with its championships and rabid fan base, will forever serve as a monument to Megan’s passion and leadership. I am grateful that she will stay with us in a very important ambassador role and help continue the advancement of the athletics department as a whole. In the coming months we will celebrate her amazing career and accomplishments, allowing Red Rocks’ fans and alumni to say ‘thank you’ to Megan for all that she accomplished and her enormous service to the University of Utah.”
Marsden completed her 35th season on the Utah gymnastics coaching staff at last weekend’s NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. She has served as Utah’s co-head coach since 2010—the last four years with Tom Farden—who now assumes sole leadership of the program.
“I cannot express how lucky I have been to spend all these years at the University of Utah competing alongside and coaching so many talented, strong, smart, amazing young women,” said Marsden. “To participate in multiple national championships as both an athlete and a coach at your alma mater is a thrill few people get to experience. But certainly the best part of my time here is the wonderful family of women we brought together at Utah and who will always be in my life.
“I made a decision several months ago that this would be my last season as a coach and I am so proud of this team and all they accomplished. I am glad this season could be all about them as that is how I wanted it.
“When Greg (husband and former Utah head coach Greg Marsden) retired, I planned to stay on another three to five years. I have enjoyed last four years co-coaching with Tom (Farden) and he has demonstrated complete capability in every area necessary to be a successful head coach on his own here. Greg and I could see those qualities in him early on, and while neither of us knew an exact timeline, we knew that one day we wanted to turn the program over to him. The Utah gymnastics program is in good hands with Tom.
“I have loved working with brilliant men like Greg and Tom and they have always appreciated what I brought to the program as well. I got to spend most of my time outside practices and competitions doing the aspects of the job I love the most, like the nutrition, fitness, personal development and wellness of our student-athletes.
Now I look forward to moving to a role of quiet support. Except during meets that is. Then I’ll be cheering for my Utes!”
No coach in NCAA gymnastics history can boast the combined gymnastics and coaching accomplishments of Marsden, who starred on four national champion teams at Utah from 1981-84 and helped coach the Utes to another six national titles. Utah never missed a national championship in Marsden’s 39 years in the program. As the most decorated college gymnast of her time, the former Megan McCunniff graduated from the U. in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, three individual NCAA titles (two all-around, one vault) and 12 first-team All-America awards.
After graduating, she became an assistant on Greg Marsden’s staff, later earning promotions to associate (1997) and co-head (2010) coach. Utah qualified into the NCAA Championships all 35 seasons with Megan Marsden on the staff, winning national titles in 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1995, and finishing as the NCAA runner-up eight times—most recently in 2015.
She compiled a 222-80-3 record as the co-head coach, earning win No. 200 at the 2018 NCAA Championships. She was a two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2014, 2015 with Greg Marsden) and two-time Regional Coach of the Year (2011, 2012). She was also the 2005 National Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2005 and 2007 Regional Assistant Coach of the Year.
In her decade as the co-head coach, Ute gymnasts won two NCAA individual titles (floor and vault by MyKayla Skinner in 2017-18) and the AAI award recognizing the nation’s best senior gymnast (Georgia Dabritz in 2015). Over the course of her career, gymnasts coached by Marsden won 11 total NCAA titles—seven on the balance beam, three on floor and one on vault—and 222 All-America awards. Marsden is the only coach in history to mentor multiple gymnasts to back-to-back NCAA beam titles: Missy Marlowe in 1991-92 and Summer Reid in 1996-97. Other NCAA beam champions under Marsden were Theresa Kulikowski in 1999 and 2001, and Ashley Postell in 2007.
Utah has excelled in eight years of Pac-12 membership, winning Pac-12 titles in 2014, 2015 and 2017, and is the only program to finish in the top three at every Pac-12 Championship. Tory Wilson in 2014 and Dabritz in 2015 won Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year honors and a Ute has won the Pac-12 all-around title six times, including five straight from 2014-17 (Wilson in 2014, Dabritz in 2015, Breanna Hughes in 2016 and Skinner in 2017 and 2018). Corrie Lothrop won the first Pac-12 all-around title in 2012.
Other Pac-12 award winners under Marsden were Scholar-Athlete of the Year Stephanie McAllister (2012), Dabritz (2015) and Hughes (2016); Freshman of the Year Dabritz (2012) and Sabrina Schwab (2016); and Specialist of the Year (Dabritz (2014) and Kassandra Lopez (2016).
The program has also excelled academically. Utah finished among the top five gymnastics teams in the country in GPA from 2012-16, placing first in 2014 and second in 2015 and 2016. The 2018 Utes ranked first academically among the teams that qualified into the NCAA Championships and No. 8 overall. Three of Marsden’s gymnasts were named first-team CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (Daria Bijak in 2010, Dabritz in 2015 and Hughes in 2016). Shannon McNatt won an NCAA Elite 90 award in 2019 for accumulating the highest GPA of a team member participating at the site of the NCAA final.