New Season, New Coach: What is actually happening with Jewell’s coaching situation?

Photo from William Jewell College Facebook

William Jewell College athletics has seemingly had a rough year dealing with coaching situations, leading to a very confused student population. Questions have naturally come to light as to why – and with good reason. Jewell has received new coaches this year in several different sports and is having to say goodbye to coaches in several others.

Tom Eisenhauer, Director of Athletics, spoke to Hilltop about these situations, of both the old coaches, and the new.

Doug Elly, head tennis coach for both men’s and women’s tennis, started at Jewell this February. Prior to this, he was working for a private organization in Florida. Spending most of his life in Springfield, Missouri, allowed him to actually have connections with some of the current tennis players, which is a large part of why he was hired, along with his many other qualifications.

“He’s done a great job with those kids, [I’m] really glad he’s a part of our staff,” Eisenhauer said of Elly.

Jewell football also welcomed a new coach this season. Chuck Lliteras, Interim Head Football Coach, filled in after the departure of another coach. Lliteras has over 25 years of experience with head coaching and is in the Missouri Football Coaches Hall of Fame. He will retain this position at least until the end of the 2019 season.

Other sports this year, however, have had to deal with more challenging obstacles. Jewell’s swimming team had a rough start to the school year, as the previous coach left the weekend of first-year move in, during orientation.

This was a difficult time of year to be searching for a new coach, as Eisenhauer explains. Dan Szuba, after consideration, was felt to be the best candidate and was asked to step in to be Head Coach of both men’s and women’s swim. Szuba was only expecting to hold the position of assistant coach this past season.

Unfortunately, after this season Szuba has decided to pursue other opportunities outside of the Jewell community.

“He did a great job with the kids, worked incredibly hard,” Eisenhauer speaks of Szuba. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about [him].”

Now, Jewell athletics is currently searching for a new coach for the upcoming season in the fall. A search committee has been comprised of four faculty and athletic staff members and has already met several times. They are expected to be narrowing the candidate pool down soon and will begin phone interviews quickly after.

Men’s soccer is also dealing with a resignation – one that happened at the end of their season. With the decision of the past season’s coach to step down, a team similar to the one for swim coaches has been formed, in order to discover the best coach for the upcoming season. The group has already convened and has narrowed the candidate pool to eight which they will be conducting phone interviews.

Jewell’s community also had to say goodbye to another great coach, Larry Holley, who retired this year. It is anticipated that a decision should be made this week in regards to the upcoming season’s coach.

With these many resignations, some speculations have come to the surface of coaches being fired for various reasons – including due to athlete interference. Eisenhauer also addressed these allegations, speaking of how students fill out a comprehensive survey of their experience where they evaluate the athletic programs at the end of each playing season. This includes evaluations of their head coach, assistant coach, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, compliance and any other sides of the program that affect the athlete.

“We want to determine: what is the level of satisfaction, where are there areas that we can improve, what are the things that we’re doing well, then we can celebrate those,” Eisenhauer said. “[The evaluations] influence the decisions we make, but I wouldn’t go so far to say there are athletes trying to get their coaches fired.”

It is also important to keep in mind that coach turnover is frequent in collegiate athletics in the United States.

Now here [at Jewell], that’s a little bit of a shock to our culture, to experience that… I mean, you look at Larry Holley, who’s been here 40 years, Jill Slominski our head women’s basketball coach who’s been here 23 years, Mike Stockton, who’s been here 19 or 20 years, we’ve got Dustin Combs who’s somewhere between 10 and 13 years,” Eisenhauer said. “And so we have this history of some of our coaches staying here really long, but when you look at the industry as a whole, coaches move around a lot, it’s just the name of the game.”

It seems that while Jewell has had a rough year for coaching on the outside, that several different factors played into why the community suffered from different resignations. And while this may seem odd, it is a natural occurrence in the world of collegiate sports.

What is certain, is that coaches are a valued part of the Jewell community.

Eisenhauer emphasizes, “We are committed to identifying the best coaches for our institution… so when a coach resigns we’re committed to a process that’s very inclusive, very collaborative, because we are asking this person to join the Jewell community, and not just be a coach.”

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