COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri fired softball coach Ehren Earleywine on Friday morning, just 13 days before the start of the Tigers’ 2018 season.

“I met with Coach Earleywine this morning and informed him of our decision to make a change in leadership within the softball program effective immediately,” athletic director Jim Sterk said in a press release. “We do not take action of 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.”

The Tigers’ season begins on Feb. 8 against San Jose State at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Missouri did not provide any details on who would run the program in Earleywine’s absence. Kendyll Bailey, a freshman and graduate of Grain Valley High School, is on the Mizzou roster for this season.

“While we are appreciative of the many successes Coach Earleywine’s teams have enjoyed on the field during his Mizzou tenure, we had serious concerns about the culture within the softball program and the experience our student-athletes were being provided as a result,” Sterk said. “I recognize that the timing is less than ideal, but I did not believe I could hold off in making a decision to ensure that our student-athletes experience a constructive environment that is consistent with the department’s expectations and values.”

Earleywine was about to enter his 12th season at Missouri after taking over the Tigers’ program in 2007. He’s the most decorated coach in program history, having led Missouri to 11 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight trips to the NCAA Super Regionals and three runs to the Women’s College World Series. He went 482-182 in Columbia.

Earleywine, a native of Jefferson City, previously coached at Georgia Tech. Before his arrival at Missouri, the Tigers had made just 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in 29 years. Last season, MU opened a new $15 million, 2,500-seat softball stadium just west of the Hearnes Center.

2018 was the last season remaining on Earleywine’s seven-year contract with the school. He made $155,000 per year.

Earleywine has been a source of controversy for seasons because of his hard-nosed and uncompromising coaching style.

In 2016, then-athletic director Mack Rhoades launched an investigation into Earleywine and the softball program after receiving complaints about Earleywine from “inside and outside the program.” Missouri’s players responded to the investigation by announcing they were playing games under protest.

The investigation eventually reached the university’s Title IX office, and Rhoades left Missouri for Baylor in July 2016 before it was completed. In August, after Sterk had taken the helm as AD, MU announced that Earleywine would stay on as coach in 2017.

“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,” Sterk said. “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.”

In 2015, he made news for sending an email to Missouri State coach Holly Hesse after she declined to set up a game between the two teams, saying she was “scared to get her a-- whooped yet again” and that she deserved credit for keeping her job “despite being horses--- for so long.”

Earleywine has long been polarizing within and around his program. Many of Earleywine’s former players, including Corrin Genovese (2012-15), Emily Crane (2013-16) and Chloe Rathburn (2016-17) came to his defense on social media Friday after learning about his firing.

When it became public Earleywine was under investigation in 2016, one fan responded by flying a hot-air balloon over the softball stadium during an NCAA Regional game and unfurling a banner in support of the coach.

Missouri’s squad has also been depleted by transfers over the past two seasons. Seven players left the program in 2016, six by transfer and one by dismissal. Among the transfers were Tori Finucane, the 2014 Southeastern Conference freshman of the year and staff ace Paige Lowary, who won a national championship at Oklahoma in 2017.

By Daniel Jones
Columbia Daily Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri fired softball coach Ehren Earleywine on Friday morning, just 13 days before the start of the Tigers’ 2018 season.
“I met with Coach Earleywine this morning and informed him of our decision to make a change in leadership within the softball program effective immediately,” athletic director Jim Sterk said in a press release. “We do not take action of 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.”
The Tigers’ season begins on Feb. 8 against San Jose State at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Missouri did not provide any details on who would run the program in Earleywine’s absence. Kendyll Bailey, a freshman and graduate of Grain Valley High School, is on the Mizzou roster for this season.
“While we are appreciative of the many successes Coach Earleywine’s teams have enjoyed on the field during his Mizzou tenure, we had serious concerns about the culture within the softball program and the experience our student-athletes were being provided as a result,” Sterk said. “I recognize that the timing is less than ideal, but I did not believe I could hold off in making a decision to ensure that our student-athletes experience a constructive environment that is consistent with the department’s expectations and values.”
Earleywine was about to enter his 12th season at Missouri after taking over the Tigers’ program in 2007. He’s the most decorated coach in program history, having led Missouri to 11 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight trips to the NCAA Super Regionals and three runs to the Women’s College World Series. He went 482-182 in Columbia.
Earleywine, a native of Jefferson City, previously coached at Georgia Tech. Before his arrival at Missouri, the Tigers had made just 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in 29 years. Last season, MU opened a new $15 million, 2,500-seat softball stadium just west of the Hearnes Center.
2018 was the last season remaining on Earleywine’s seven-year contract with the school. He made $155,000 per year.
Earleywine has been a source of controversy for seasons because of his hard-nosed and uncompromising coaching style.
In 2016, then-athletic director Mack Rhoades launched an investigation into Earleywine and the softball program after receiving complaints about Earleywine from “inside and outside the program.” Missouri’s players responded to the investigation by announcing they were playing games under protest.
The investigation eventually reached the university’s Title IX office, and Rhoades left Missouri for Baylor in July 2016 before it was completed. In August, after Sterk had taken the helm as AD, MU announced that Earleywine would stay on as coach in 2017.
“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,” Sterk said. “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.”
In 2015, he made news for sending an email to Missouri State coach Holly Hesse after she declined to set up a game between the two teams, saying she was “scared to get her a-- whooped yet again” and that she deserved credit for keeping her job “despite being horses--- for so long.”
Earleywine has long been polarizing within and around his program. Many of Earleywine’s former players, including Corrin Genovese (2012-15), Emily Crane (2013-16) and Chloe Rathburn (2016-17) came to his defense on social media Friday after learning about his firing.
When it became public Earleywine was under investigation in 2016, one fan responded by flying a hot-air balloon over the softball stadium during an NCAA Regional game and unfurling a banner in support of the coach.
Missouri’s squad has also been depleted by transfers over the past two seasons. Seven players left the program in 2016, six by transfer and one by dismissal. Among the transfers were Tori Finucane, the 2014 Southeastern Conference freshman of the year and staff ace Paige Lowary, who won a national championship at Oklahoma in 2017.