Clark Campbell is coming home.
Campbell, a 1993 Kansas University graduate and former KU swimmer, KU assistant coach and professional triathlete from Coffeyville, on Thursday was named head women's swim coach at Kansas.
Campbell, 36, had spent the past four seasons as head coach of the men's and women's swim teams at the University of Evansville.
Prior to that, he worked as an assistant men's swim coach at the University of Minnesota from 1995-98 and head coach of the men's and women's teams at West Virginia Wesleyan from 1993-95. He was a professional triathlete from the mid-1980s to 1992, when he retired to complete work on his degree.
"My family has a long history of Jayhawker in them. We bleed Crimson and Blue," Campbell said Thursday. "I've got brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts a long line of people who have walked down the hill (on graduation day)."
He believes his love for KU will show quickly.
"I really believe in the school, athletic department and our state," Campbell said. "I'll be able to go and really make people aware of what we're about."
He has no doubt he can field a competitive program at KU.
"When I was there in the early 1990s, Kansas was very, very successful. We had many All-Americans. We'd send a good group of four, five, six, seven athletes to the NCAAs every year and score points," Campbell said of the Jayhawks, who placed fifth of six teams in the Big 12 championships last season.
"Texas is definitely the one team that is sort of the target now. They are definitely the best team in the conference right now," Campbell added. "It gives us a good goal to shoot toward. After Texas you have five other schools very close and competitive."
Campbell, the 2000 Missouri Valley men's and women's swim coach of the year, led an Evansville program that set school records in all 19 men's and 19 women's events since he took control of the program in 1998. Those marks include 12 Missouri Valley Conference records.
His teams were named Academic All-America by the College Swim Coaches Assn. all eight semesters.
"We are very pleased to have Clark coming back to the University of Kansas," KU athletic director Al Bohl said. "He's done an outstanding job at Evansville and helped that program achieve national recognition. We are very excited to have such a talented young coach join our staff."
Campbell beat out 31 candidates.
"He is such a well respected coach in swim circles," said KU senior women's administrator Janelle Martin, who headed the search. "He is a member of the NCAA swim committee. He obviously did a great job developing student athletes in and out of the pool.
"I'm excited for the swimming program to have someone taking over with the impressive credentials such as Clark and who has such a deep appreciation for his alma mater. I know he can hardly wait to be back on KU's campus and in the community."
Campbell spoke Thursday via cell phone in his car, which was "somewhere in Missouri." He cut short a family vacation to Coffeyville, electing to drive wife Cassie and children Canaan (6), Cierra (4) and Claire (2) back to Evansville, Ind., to begin the process of selling their house and moving to Lawrence.
Campbell on whether KU's Robinson Pool is an impressive enough facility to recruit in the Big 12 and on a national level:
"For a women's program, that facility is definitely do-able, but I do like challenges," Campbell said. "If there are folks looking to possibly getting involved in looking at building a facility or whatever way enhancing aquatics, I'll do whatever I need to do to work with them in any way I can. I've never been shy about doing my part (to raise funds)."
As a triathlete, Campbell turned professional at 19, after swimming one year at KU. "I was ranked sixth in the Grand Prix in 1990 and won a long course title in '86. I had a good run. I enjoyed my days as an athlete. It's helped me become a better coach."
Campbell on KU losing its men's swim team to budget cuts: "As a former student/athlete it did hit home," he said. "But now, being in the business of college athletics 10 years, I see every institution, whether Kansas or Evansville we are all in a tight boat of athletic directors and presidents having to make real tough decisions. It's the way the world is right now. My biggest challenge is making the one (swim) program we have at Kansas as successful as it can be. I think the best days are still ahead."