CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois men’s gymnastics head coach Justin Spring is leaving the program to become an assistant women’s gymnastics coach at Alabama. The surprise move was announced Tuesday evening, with Illini athletic director Josh Whitman naming assistant coach Daniel Ribeiro the interim head coach for the 2022-23 seasons.

“It’s impossible to sum up my 20-year experience that I’ve had at the University of Illinois,” Spring said in a statement. “Just trying to put thoughts into words for this press release brings heavy tears to my eyes. When I made a decision to come here back in 2001, I never dreamed that I would have the opportunities and success that I have had, as well as making life-long friendships within this amazing community. I’m moving on to an exciting new opportunity but the Fighting Illini and Champaign-Urbana will always have a special place in my heart.”

Spring has spent the past 12 seasons as men’s gymnastics for the Illini, winning a national title in 2012, winning the national coach of the year. He also won four Big Ten titles and coached 11 gymnasts to NCAA event titles, racking up 79 All-Americans.

Spring won a bronze medal with Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he’s one of the most decorated Illini gymnasts in school history as a four-time NCAA champion and 13-time All-American.