Farden resigns gymnastics post

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Southeast gymnastics coach Tom Farden talks to his team before a meet during the 2008 season. (Southeast Missourian file)

Tom Farden stepped down Monday as the Southeast Missouri State women's gymnastics coach after six successful seasons to become an assistant at Arkansas.

Farden, 35, begins his duties at Arkansas today.

"It was a really hard decision. I want people to understand that," Farden said. "I've really enjoyed my time here. Leaving the students and staff. .. it's tough.

"But this is a solid opportunity. I wouldn't be going if I didn't think there were good things in place for my family and my professional development."

Farden said he eventually wants to be a head coach of a major program and going to Arkansas should give him a better chance to attain that goal.

The Razorbacks, who compete in the high-profile Southeastern Conference, finished fifth in the nation last year

"They've got the resources to fight for a national championship," he said. "I've been contacted by them before. It didn't work out, but a couple of weeks ago my wife [Christina] and I learned of this opportunity.

"My ultimate goal is to be a head coach at major university. I wouldn't take it if I didn't feel this would springboard me into that."

Farden has coached Southeast the past six seasons after spending four years as an assistant. He led the Redhawks to impressive achievements since taking over the program.

Under Farden, Southeast claimed two NCAA team regional berths in the past four years, after the program's previous appearance came in 1997.

The 2007 Redhawks were ranked No. 22 nationally at one point for the program's highest ranking in more than a decade.

And away from the gym, the Redhawks have won the past three academic national championships.

"I coached this program with every ounce of energy I had and I feel like we accomplished some great things," Farden said. "I came here as a young assistant coach and then became head coach. It was a great opportunity.

"I spent 10 years here. I passed on two other jobs, one to be the head coach at Utah State and one to be an assistant at a Big 12 school. Like I said, it was a very tough decision. But I feel like the program is in very good shape for whoever takes it over."

Farden said he appreciates all the support his program received from the community.

"I want to thank all the fans," he said. "The support they gave us was tremendous."

Southeast announced Monday that assistant Kristi Ewasko will serve as acting coach while the university conducts a national search for Farden's successor.

"I want to thank Tom Farden for his 10 years of service here at Southeast Missouri State," Southeast athletic director John Shafer said in a release. "He has built a championship program in the classroom and in the gym."

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