Searching for Answers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Confusion still surrounds the firing of Concordia men’s basketball coach Anthony Rutledge.

Rutledge said athletic director Steven Washington informed him of his release June 18.

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He didn’t receive a reason for his termination, similar to the situation surrounding the release of women’s basketball coach Ernest Foster.

Rutledge said Washington told him Concordia CEO Dr. Portia Shields ordered his release. However, his players say the school couldn’t seem to get its stories straight.

“The next day, my players told me they were being told I quit. I was dumbfounded,” said Rutledge. “The players came to me again and said that Washington told them Dr. Shields fired me. When Dr. Shields met with the team, she said Washington fired me.”

When a reporter for The Selma Times-Journal went to Concordia College’s campus Wednesday to get answers to questions about the terminations, chief financial officer Ken Dyer told him to leave campus without conducting interviews.

Dyer claimed the reporter violated policy that calls for confirming appointments with the public relations office before coming to campus. When the reporter told Dyer that Rutledge had invited him, Dyer replied, “Coach Rutledge is no longer coaching.”

Some of his players did not handle Rutledge’s release well.

A meeting with Shields and Washington resulted in one player’s expulsion.

“My cousin, Parker, disagreed with what Shields was saying and walked out on her,” said basketball player Quentin Collins. “She got him kicked off campus the other day.”

Two others considered packing up and leaving campus.

“I was ready to leave. I still might leave,” said Jacobey Andrews. “When coach told us, I was ready to go right then. In fact, me and George (Wilson) started packing our stuff that day.”

Like their coach, the players still do not know why he was fired.

“They haven’t given him a reason, they haven’t given us a reason,” said Justin Hill, a freshman forward. “We’ve asked the CEO and athletic director numerous times for one. One’s blaming on the other and vice versa.”

Rutlege does not know if he will seek another coaching job or leave athletics.

“I’m just going to take some time to reflect on what’s going on, because I’m really disturbed about this whole situation,” said Rutledge. “I can’t really fathom how something like this could happen in a Christian school environment.”