NEW YORK – Earlier this morning, Mike Zimmer, Columbia’s Director of Rowing and Head Coach of Heavyweight Rowing informed Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education, of his decision to move on from Columbia to pursue new challenges and opportunities in his professional career.

“I have come to the decision that the time is right for me to pursue new opportunities and different challenges in my professional career,” said Zimmer. “I have enjoyed my time at Columbia – and value the many tremendous relationships I have made over the years – but this is the best choice for me and my family at this moment in my career.”

“We are supportive of Mike’s decision one-hundred percent, and wish him all the best,” Dr. Murphy said.  “Mike is not only an outstanding coach, but he is also an outstanding person. I will miss working with him greatly.”

Zimmer just completed his ninth season as the head heavyweight rowing coach at Columbia.  His success with the heavyweights was highlighted in 2010 after all three Columbia boats finished among the top 12 at the 2010 IRA Regatta. The Lions earned four trophies that season and compiled eight victories over their opponents.

“Mike’s influence on Columbia Rowing cannot be overstated,” remarked Murphy. “He presided over some of the most successful years in Columbia Rowing history, for the lightweights, heavyweights and women’s rowing programs.”

From 2007-09, Columbia’s varsity eight won 15 Cup races, five in each season. The Lions strung together consecutive victories in the first five events of the year in 2009, including a win at the prestigious Childs Cup over Princeton for the first time in 46 years.

In 2008, the Lions went on to compile a 10-1 record and make the Grand Finals of both the Eastern Sprints and the IRA National Championship Regatta, the former for the first time since 1955, the latter for the first time in the IRA’s modern format. In July 2008, the heavyweight Varsity 8 was invited to participate in the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta. Overall Zimmer compiled a 70-40 record in head-to-head heavyweight races.

Prior to becoming heavyweight coach, Zimmer had spent eight years as head coach of the Lion women’s crew. Under his direction, the Lions were ranked in the nation’s top twenty each of the final four years, and were considered for a berth in the NCAA Championships in 2004, his final season.

Prior to becoming the women’s coach, Zimmer enjoyed six years as head of the Lions’ lightweight men’s team. He was voted lightweight rowing’s EARC Coach of the Year after his 1996 team posted a 10-1 record and earned a bronze medal for third place at the IRA. At the time, it was the lightweights’ best season in their history.

“I am thankful for Dianne’s support over the years,” added Zimmer. “Our working relationship has been a great partnership. I am also thankful for the relationships I have made with many alumni in the Kings’ Crown Rowing Association. I will always treasure my association with Columbia Rowing.”

“We thank Mike for his wonderful service to Columbia University over the past 24 years,” said Murphy. “We wish him and his family the best as he moves forward into a new and exciting chapter in his life. I know that he will find success in anything he chooses to do.”