STANFORD -- Olympic diving coach Rick Schavone announced his retirement Thursday after 36 seasons at Stanford.

One of the country's most respected coaches, Schavone decided to step aside a month shy of his 65th birthday.

"I knew the time was coming," he said in a statement. "So I decided the time is now."

Schavone, a four time NCAA coach of the year with a doctorate degree in sports psychology, never competed in diving himself. But divers came to trust his knowledge.

"He knows exactly what he's looking at," said 2012 Olympian Cassidy Krug, who trained with Schavone for nine years. "It's like he can see force or something. He knows what we need to do to be better. It's kind of an instinctual thing."

While working on his master's degree at the University of Maryland, Schavone started coaching divers by reading books about the technical aspect of the sport.

He got the Stanford job by happenstance. Schavone was looking for a coaching job while working on his doctorate degree at Stanford. When inquiring with Stanford's coach about any local club jobs, he was told, "'Take those (darn) women,' " Schavone once recalled.

This was when the Title IX federal gender-equity law had started being enforced in the 1970s. Some men's coaches didn't want to devote time to coaching women, too.

Schavone eventually took over the Cardinal men's and women's diving programs. During his tenure, he became a nine-time Pac-12 coach of the year, including the recently concluded men's season. He made his Olympic debut in London two years ago while coaching Cardinal athletes Kristian Ipsen and Krug.

Ipsen won a bronze medal with partner Troy Dumais in synchronized diving. The medal, along with a bronze by another American team in the synchronized 10-meter platform, was the first Olympic diving medals for the United States since 2000.

Schavone thanked all of his divers throughout four decades.

"I hope that I've added something to their lives, for I can assure you they have to mine," he said.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.