Foster terminated

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Concordia College’s back-to-back USCAA national women’s basketball team may soon find itself without a coach.

A month ago, the city threw Ernest Foster and his players a parade down Broad Street. He now believes he will coach elsewhere next season.

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Foster said Tuesday night he was informed he would not return next year after a conversation with athletic director Steven Washington.

“He said the school is moving in a new direction. The only direction I’ve been moving in is winning,” said Foster. “If you’re moving in a new direction, the opposite of winning is losing.”

Washington could not be reached for comment.

According to Foster, Washington did not discuss or specify the college’s new direction. He refused to go into detail, Foster said, and gave no reason for his dismissal.

“The only thing I can say is I did my job,” said Foster. “My team has performed well on the court, and my players were graduating on time. I never had any problems with my players, and they never had any problems with me.”

Foster said he also learned men’s basketball coach Anthony Rutledge was fired. Rutledge confirmed his termination, but declined further comment.

Concordia chief financial officer Ken Dyer said staff evaluations were taking place. He and Dr. Portia Shields, chief executive officer of Concordia, declined comment on Foster’s termination.

“We don’t discuss personnel issues, but as of right now, we have no intention to take any adverse action on Coach Foster that I know of,” said Dyer. “Nothing’s happened, and we haven’t said anything was going to happen.”

Foster said his players were shocked when he informed them of his dismissal.

“They’re confused. It’s a shock, especially for my seniors,” said Foster. “They’re also trying to find out what this new direction is.”

Foster said that he was treated unfairly and not given the tools he needed to remain competitive. That included demands for increased office space and practice time for his team. He said he also asked for a raise that he did not receive.

Foster, a Concordia alumnus, said he would hold no ill will toward the college.

“Whatever direction they decide to go in, I’m happy for them,” said Foster. “I know I’m in the right direction already.”

Foster does not know where he will coach next basketball season. However, he said he has already received interest from other schools.

“Life is unexpected,” said Foster. “Every good thing must end, and we must move forward.”