After nearly 12 seasons as the University of Missouri’s head softball coach, Ehren Earleywine was fired by athletic director Jim Sterk on Friday — less than two weeks before the Tigers open their 2018 season.
Earleywine led Mizzou to 11 consecutive postseason appearances with three Women’s College World Series appearances. The 2017 season marked a milestone in Missouri’s softball history as the Tigers broke ground on a brand new $17.5 million softball stadium.
Despite Missouri’s many successes, Earleywine’s coaching career has been marred by controversy. In 2016, he was investigated by the athletic department and Missouri Title IX office for nearly five months after being accused by players of verbal abuse. When the 2016 season ended, seven players left the program including pitching aces Paige Lowary and Tori Finucane.
Prior to the investigation, there was an intense email exchange between Earleywine and Missouri State softball head coach Holly Hesse in which the Mizzou coach made disparaging remarks about Hesse and the MSU program. After the email exchange was reported by espnW, Earleywine made a public apology to Hesse and to the university for his response in the email.
In Sterk’s university statement he said, “We do not take this magnitude without careful thought and consideration, however, we have lost confidence in Coach Earleywine’s leadership to foster the type of healthy environment we expect for our student-athletes, and as a result, believe it is in the program’s best interest to make a change at this time.”
“Since my arrival at Mizzou, I have had a chance to consider concerns within the softball program that arose before my time and observe Coach Earleywine’s leadership of our program. This decision was based upon a culmination of leadership concerns, not just one incident, which caused me to reevaluate his position within our softball program at this time.”