Concordia should respond

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The issue: Concordia’s firing of its two basketball coaches

Our position: Players, fans, students and the coaches themselves should know the reason behind the school’s decisions.

There are a number of things that are direct offspring of winning.

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Winning breeds confidence. Winning breeds team chemistry. Winning breeds recognition.

As we have often seen in the coaching profession, however, winning does not always breed job security.

We do not presume to know all the facts and circumstances surrounding the firing of Concordia women’s basketball coach Ernest Foster and men’s basketball coach Anthony Rutledge.

There are some things that appear to be quite clear, however.

Foster, in particular, is a graduate of the school. He was once a great basketball player himself for the Hornets. He is the only player, male or female, to have his number retired by the college.

Before he took over as coach four years ago, you could hear crickets chirping during women’s basketball games. Their home games have since then become exciting events. That’s mainly due to talented local products like Santana Seay and a pair of national championships.

So why now are his services no longer needed?

There may be some character issues that we are not aware of and that the school is certainly not talking about. Or it could be that Foster’s success has brought him a due amount of attention from larger schools; in which case, the Concordia administration has decided to get rid of its golden goose before it shuns them for a larger stake.

It could be the typical small town, small school mentality: We either can’t or won’t pay to keep someone who has earned the right to ask for more money.

Whatever the reason, it tends to raise a lot of questions among several circles. For one, what will become of the players that Foster has recruited into his program? Some athletes are notoriously loyal to their coaches and may be tempted to follow him or go elsewhere.

What do the parents think of the situation? They have entrusted their children to a man and a university, and they need answers for the change other than “we’ve decided to go in a different direction.”

Foster raised a good point by asking about the new direction.

The school has a new administration that promises changes. If new athletic director Steven Washington actually assumes a fair amount of administrative duties, it will be a welcome improvement from recent years.

In her message on the college Web site, CEO Portia Shields promised the cafeteria would not run out of food as it has before.

It’s disgraceful that that should ever be a problem at an institute of higher learning.

If this school truly believes in taking care of both its student-athletes and student population in general, it will begin answering questions and taking proactive measures to solve problems.