WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Written by Bryan Messerly
Kevin Gilson served as head coach of the men’s swimming and diving program from 1967-96 and the women’s swimming and diving program from 1980-96.
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His 30-year career at WVU produced six All-Americans (Rick Hyser, Kreg Lewis, Debbie Scott, Kim Kaufman, Aileen Convery and Renee Riccio) and 27 NCAA qualifiers. Hyser was the first men’s swimming All-American in 1983 and Kaufman was the first women’s All-American in 1985. Gilson helped Convery compete in the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Gilson compiled a 290-153-1 record as coach of both programs (197-100-1 with the men and 93-53 with the women).
Gilson won 10 Eastern League championships (five men and five women), led the men to four Atlantic 10 team titles and guided the women to three Atlantic 10 team championships.
Recognized as one of the top collegiate coaches in the nation, Gilson was acknowledged time and time again by members of the media and his peers. In 1976, he was selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as the West Virginia Coach of the Year. He was honored as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Year four times and was the 1994 Atlantic 10 Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year. Gilson earned Atlantic 10 Women’s Coach of the Year honors in 1993.
In 1992, he received the Distinguished Coach Award from the College Swimming Coaches’ Association of America, the highest honor given in the coaching profession chosen by his peers.
Gilson led two teams to undefeated seasons (1980 and 1983) and at the time of his retirement, every single men’s and women’s team record was accomplished during his tenure.
Gilson earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Maryland in 1964 and received his master’s and doctoral degrees from WVU. He continued teaching for 10 more years as an associate professor in the WVU School of Medicine.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three daughters, Erin, Shawn and Tara, and five grandchildren, Molly, Kevin, Jane, Owyn and Bella.