It's been rumored for several days and the University of Washington made it official on Friday afternoon -- Jim McLaughlin, one of the most successful coaches in the history of UW athletics, is leaving the school to become the head coach at Notre Dame.
McLaughlin departs after a 14-year career that yielded a 357-90 record, 13 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, four trips to the Final Four and the school's first national championship in 2005.
McLaughlin was an assistant at Notre Dame in 1996 under former coach Debbie Brown, whom UND announced would not return in 2015. His wife is also from the Midwest.
"Jim McLaughlin recently informed us that he was accepting an offer to become the head volleyball coach of the Fighting Irish,” UW athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement released by the school. “Jim spent time as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, his wife Margaret attended UND, and throughout our discussions over the past few days it became very clear that this opportunity provided Jim and his family a unique chance to return to a place of great personal significance to them.”
A native of Malibu, California, McLaughlin was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year four times, and coached two National Player of the Year recipients -- Courtney Thompson of Kent, and Krista Vansant.
In a statement, McLaughlin said: "This was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my coaching career. My wife, Margaret, is from the Midwest and all of her family is still there. She has followed me across the country and we both decided that it was time to pursue opportunities in that part of the country. The past 14 years have been wonderful for me and my family. We could not have been treated any better by the university or the Seattle community. My children have all grown up here and it has been a great place to raise a family. I love the University of Washington and will cherish the time I spent here and the relationships that were forged over the past fourteen years. I cannot thank enough the university administrators and everyone in the athletic department who have always provided me with tremendous assistance and support.
"Scott Woodward has been fabulous to work for and has been willing to do whatever was needed to allow us to be successful. I have been extremely fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work with some great people here including my assistant coaches and other support staff who did an exceptional job and were key to our success here. The fan support has been absolutely incredible and I want to thank the students who gave us a true home court advantage, the Seattle community who helped us become a perennial leader in attendance and all of the people who provided our program with personal as well as financial support that was invaluable to our success. People like Anne and Wayne Gittinger and Ben and Nancy Remak were so helpful and were great friends of the volleyball program.
"Coaching in the Pac-12 Conference has been a tremendous experience and I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for all of my fellow coaches. We knew we were going to face stiff competition and a well-coached team each and every match during the Pac-12 season. My passion is to coach volleyball and it was a joy to go to the gym every day and coach all of the wonderful players that have been in our program over the past fourteen years. The hardest part of leaving will be having to say good-bye to my outstanding assistant coaches, support staff and players. Leslie Gabriel has been my top assistant from Day 1 here and it is hard to imagine going to work now without having her right there with me. She is a special woman, a tremendous volleyball coach and a great friend. Keegan Cook has been a great addition to our staff and he is going to have an incredibly successful career as a coach. I will forever be grateful for the time I spent at the University of Washington and will leave with nothing but fond memories.”