Niagara University believes it's found the person to lead its swimming and diving programs through some rough waters.
Director of Athletic Simon Gray announced the hiring of Eric Bugby as new head coach of both the NU men's and women's swimming and diving teams on Tuesday.
Bugby replaces Ben Nigro, who either resigned from or was fired by Niagara — it's still not clear which — on Oct. 8, three weeks or so after three women's swimmers filed a federal lawsuit claiming Nigro and the school had failed to respond to claims of sexual harassment from members of the men's team.
“Eric emerged as the lead candidate for our head coaching position because of his extensive experience in developing student-athletes,” Gray said in a statement. “In addition to training top-level swimmers, Eric will be focused on providing an elite-level experience for all members of our programs. One of Eric’s first tasks will be hiring our first full-time assistant coach whose priorities also align with our University mission.”
Bugby most recently served as an associate head coach for men’s and women’s swimming and diving at Lehigh University. He was named the 2018 Patriot League Women’s Coach of the Year and achieved five NCAA standards. In his time at Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks set 32 combined team records and qualified eight swimmers for Winter Nationals and four for Open Water Nationals.
Prior to Lehigh, Bugby served as an Assistant Coach at Denver from 2016-17. He was the recruiting coordinator and served as the lead for NCAA compliance.
Bugby also had two stints at the United States Military Academy, serving as the associate head coach from 2014-16 and as an assistant coach from 2010-13. He was the head coach and aquatics director at the Illinois Institute of Technology from 2013-14.
“I would like to thank Director of Athletics Simon Gray and Associate Athletic Director Dedra Palmer for the opportunity to serve Niagara University and the community as its head swimming and diving coach,” said Bugby. “I was instantly impressed with the level of dedication to the student-athletes and the communication within the athletic department.
"Niagara has a championship pedigree and I can’t wait to lead the program back there with a culture of academic and athletic excellence. I am excited to build a cohesive and dynamic team as well as provide an unrivaled student-athlete experience.”
The lawsuit filed in September also raised questions about potential Title IX violations. The women's swimmers claimed their program was an "appendage" of the men's program, without its own practice schedule or coaching staff.
Gray told GNN Sports the coaching position will remain the same, with Bugby leading both programs. The new, full-time assistant will also work with both.
Three earn weekly awards
Niagara junior Jack Billings was named the NCAA's Third Star of the Week on on Tuesday, while a couple of his teammates captured Atlantic Hockey honors.
Billings scored three goals and added an assist in last weekend's home-and-home sweep of Mercyhurst, including two goals and an assist in a 5-0 road win Friday.
Alex Truscott and Brian Wilson were named the AHC's Player of the Week and Goalie of the Week, respectively.
Truscott, a sophomore, scored the game-winning goals in both games against the Lakers. Wilson earned both wins, including a 26-save shutout on Friday.
The Purple Eagles host a pair of games against Air Force this weekend at Dwyer Arena.
Moore joins 1,000-point club
Senior guard Jai Moore became the 25th member of the Niagara women's basketball program's 1,000-point club, scoring 21 points as the Purple Eagles picked up their first win of the season, 77-63 over Oakland at the Gallagher Center.
Moore's outing snapped a four-game cold stretch, during which the preseason first team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference pick scored just 42 points on 18-of-61 (29.5%) shooting. She scored 22 and 21 points in her other two games, a 71-67 loss to St. Bonaventure and Monday's win.
Impressive freshman Adia Brisker posted her first career double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Senior Maggie McIntyre added 13 points, a career-best eight boards and three steals.
The Purple Eagles (1-5) return to action at 2 p.m. Sunday at Colgate.