COLUMBIA — Shannon Welker, a St. Louis native who has served for five years as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan, is the new Missouri gymnastics head coach.
Welker is the third head coach the Missouri program has had. The announcement Thursday comes a month to the day after Rob Drass, the Tigers' previous head coach, resigned after the team failed to make an NCAA regional for the first time since 2001.
Welker worked as head coach and program director at the St. Louis Gymnastic Center for nine years. While there, he coached Tori Howard, who just finished her senior year at Missouri. He also recruited Tigers sophomore standout Rachel Updike while at Michigan.
The deal is not finalized, but Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said Thursday that Welker has agreed to a five-year contract paying $125,000 per year.
Alden spoke about how the Southeastern Conference is clearly the best conference in college gymnastics, but expressed confidence at Welker's ability to meet that challenge and advance the program.
"I think from the interview standpoint and also what we hear about him around the country, his work ethic is extreme, you know, I mean, he's driven," Alden said.
Welker expressed excitement at the opportunity to return to his home state and take the head coaching reins of a program.
"My wife and I knew that this was definitely a possibility on the front end of this, somewhere we'd love to be for the rest of our lives," Welker said. "And walking away, when I finished my last day here of my interview, that was confirmed, that this is definitely a great place and somewhere where I want to help Mizzou move in, do good things, do great things, in the SEC and ... the NCAA."
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.