Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Two tennis coaching candidates expected to visit campus

Monday, August 19, 2013
Melissa Martin practices at the indoor tennis court last spring. Photo by Alyssa Brewer

The tennis team at Southeast Missouri State University is coachless again after Josh Moore's contract was not renewed because of "insubordination." While a national search for a new coach has been narrowed down two candidates, who will come to campus for an interview, Moore said he is preparing to file a lawsuit.

Senior associate athletic director Cindy Gannon is the chair of the coach search committee.

"Our plan is to have a coach in place very soon after we conduct the campus interviews," Gannon said.

Gannon said the athletics administration works with the human resources department and a committee during the hiring process. The committee recommends a candidate to the athletic director and then there is a discussion with his supervisor, who is university President Kenneth W. Dobbins.

The committee is made up of Gannon, the assistant director of compliance Rachel Blunt and the event management and facilities coordinator Kent Phillips.

Gannon said fifth-year student-athlete Jessica Courtnell will volunteer time with the tennis program in exchange for her scholarship. Gannon said this is a common practice for fifth-year students.

The 2013-2014 team will consist of two returning players, Heather Robinson and Melissa Martin, as well as international students Ekaterina Donetskova and Valeriia Kashina from Russia, Annisa Warasanti from Indonesia and a walk-on from Memphis.

Gannon said she had been corresponding with the students during the summer to inform them about the coach's status, but Courtnell said, "We weren't told why, Cindy said she couldn't tell us" about Moore's dismissal.

Martin said that until the team gets a new coach, she thinks the players will practice by themselves, maybe with some help from the department.

"Until we get back we don't really know what's going to be happening," Martin said.

The tennis team has had unstable leadership during the past years, with two coaches, Mark Elliot and Moore, leaving the team after their contracts were not renewed. Moore's departure was announced in a press release on July 3.

The team finished 4-11 overall and 1-9 in the OVC in Elliot's last season and finished 5-12 overall and 2-7 in the OVC under Moore's leadership last spring. The team last qualified for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in 2007.

Injuries and player suspensions led to a short roster that resulted in the team having to forfeit matches and recruit Southeast soccer player Sarah Uptmor.

"Transitioning from one coach to another is quite hard as you have to learn their style of coaching, and all of the other aspects of how they run things," Martin said.

Gannon declined to comment on the former coach.

"Our objective is obviously to hire a tennis coach that is going to be able to command and give stability to the program and allow the program to compete in the Ohio Valley Conference," Gannon said.

Moore has made allegations of wrongful treatment and said a lawsuit "is in the works." He said athletic director Mark Alnutt treated him differently after he filed two complaints with the university's human resources department, one against Alnutt for workplace retaliation and another against Gannon for verbal abuse on June 27.

Moore said Gannon had "problems with how I handled disciplinary problems with Elizabeth Nyenwe."

Moore added that he was told by Gannon that he could not dismiss Nyenwe from the team even though Moore said he had been given permission by Alnutt and Gannon to "kick everyone off the team to start over" if needed. Nyenwe eventually was dismissed from the team.

Moore said he was told by both Jim Cook, the human resources director and Brady Barke, the interim associate director of athletics for compliance and student support services, that his new contract was being prepared.

But on July 3 Moore said Cook called to discuss the complaints he had filed and hand delivered him a response to each complaint he made. After the discussion, Moore said Cook called in Alnutt into the room and they told Moore he would not get another contract.

"I was like, you know, I've been told I would, I have it on writing that I would, there hasn't been any issue brought up to tell me I haven't," Moore said.

"The official reason they gave me was 'you were insubordinate in a meeting on June 24'" with Alnutt. If anything it was him [Alnutt] raising his voice in an aggressive manner, than me being insubordinate. I have it recorded."

"This is obviously retaliation, it couldn't be any clearer to me ... because I filed the complaints," Moore said.