Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On Tigers and Coaching Styles

The saga of the summer came to an end this weekend in Columbia, Missouri when it was announced that the Title IX investigation into Mizzou head softball coach Ehren Earleywine had ended with no findings and that he would be retained in his position.

As the summer dragged on and the investigation with it, the eventual finding became a more likely outcome as time went by. It seemed almost a sure thing after the departure of athletic director Mack Rhoades, who accepted a similar position at Baylor. Rhoades had long remained intentionally mum on the "investigation", except to confirm that an investigation was, in fact, ongoing.

According to reports, the investigation stemmed from a complaint by a handful of players who were unhappy with Earleywine's treatment of them. The school's release confirming Earleywine's status did not include any new information as to whether the allegations were found to have merit or what, if any, basis was found for them.

Earleywine is the winningest coach in the school's softball history, amassing a 453-154 record in a decade of time as a Tiger, and guiding his squad to three Women's College World Series appearances during that time.

Despite the complaints of the few active players, numerous former players were vocal in their support of Earleywine from the beginning. The program's class of 2016, consisting of Taylor Gadbois; Sami Fagan; and Emily Crane, all appeared in a video with several other program alumni, celebrating Earleywine's ten-year anniversary at the school.

The Tiger fanbase was equally vocal in their support of Earleywine during the latter part of the season, as the details surrounding the investigation began to come to light. A hot-air balloon with a pro-Earleywine banner attached was spotted during the Regional hosted in Columbia and fans wore t-shirts supporting "their" coach.

The offseason has not only been tumultuous in the job security department for Earleywine, but equally so in the player turnover department. Six players have elected to transfer out of Columbia this summer, including 2/3 of the active pitching staff in Paige Lowary and Tori Finucane, as well as several role players from the 2016 squad.

Earleywine's contract runs through 2018, the final season of an extension he signed in 2011.

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