We talk a lot about the recruiting process and how you should go about it in order to make the best possible decision for you, but what happens when the coach you look in the eyes and tell, “Yes, I want to play for you,” leaves? When making the decision you have to at least consider the possibility that they may not be there when you step on campus, especially if you were an early recruit, but sometimes the coaching exits are more untimely than you imagine.
The past 12 months have been filled with a tremendous amount of movement among the college coaching ranks. Some departures are due to unfortunate circumstances (Clint Myers leaving Auburn and Michael Lotief being dismissed from Louisiana Lafayette), some do it for the opportunity to be closer to their hometown, others may be enticed with a bigger paycheck (with the enormous growth of softball and its presence on TV, athletic departments are beginning to go above and beyond to put a good product on the field), and many are just taking that next step up the coaching ladder.
Here’s the lowdown on where we are today: The big shift heard ‘round the country was Oregon head coach Mike White, who completely turned the Ducks program around in his 9 years, leaving Eugene to take over the Texas Longhorn program after the unexpected resignation of 23-year head coach Connie Clark. The Ducks administration then nabbed the 21-year University of Oklahoma assistant/associate head coach, Melyssa Lombardi as their new head coach. This trifecta of events is a perfect example of why you should never assume you won’t be the one affected by a shift. We’ve got some pretty incredible coaches into 30+ years of coaching at their respective schools and whether you want to think it or not, at some point you have to believe the clock is ticking.
Some other current movement happening across the country: After the abrupt firing of Missouri’s head coach, Ehren Earleywine the week before the 2018 season began, the university named assistant coach, Gina Fogue, as the interim head coach until earlier this summer they announced former Hofstra head coach, Larissa Anderson, as the new Tigers head coach. Boise State’s Cindy Malone takes the job at Central Florida replacing 18-year head coach Renee Gillispie, who takes the job at Iowa. University of Utah assistant Maggi Livreri is named new head coach of Boise State. University of Pittsburgh head coach, Holly Aprile, makes an in-conference move to Louisville. DePaul head coach, Eugene Lenti, departs after 37 years giving way for first time head coach, and DePaul alumnus, Tracie Adix Zins. And this is just the tip of the ice berg!
Regardless of whether you’re already at the school, committed, or signed, losing the coach you chose is not easy. Because there are so many circumstances surrounding each situation we can’t generalize what each athlete should do when a coach decides to leave a program. However, should a player decide to leave or de-commit, the decision should always be done ethically and professionally. Just remember, your school is attempting to make the best possible decision for the program and the coach selected wants the best situation for you and the team as well. Give them an opportunity to get to know you and to re-present you with their vision before you make your decision. At the end of the day, if the fit is not right then you move forward to correct the situation, but again, in a manner that is respectful to all parties. I would advise you to take a deep breath and don’t feel rushed to make an emotional decision. You were recruited by that school and coach because you were perceived to be a good fit not only for that program but also at that particular level of play and conference. Keep in mind, you did fall in love with the school. Be patient, be prepared, and be respectful.