The not-so-surprising end came Thursday when Carolyn DeHoff announced her resignation at the conclusion of the season. The numbers are really all you need to know: a 72-101 mark in six seasons and, most important, 27-59 in the last three years, which shows progress wasn’t being made. The happenings on Thursday also brought to light a couple of issues surrounding the job as head coach: a unique stipulation in her contract and the impact of social media that both DeHoff and athletic director Lynn Dorn said had on the players.
- First, the contract: In the amendment signed in 2009, it was stipulated that “If the University fails to notify Coach in writing by April 15, 2013, that the Agreement will be extended, renewed or terminated upon the expiration of the term, the Agreement will automatically extend for one Additional year until April 15, 2015.” It’s a clause by DeHoff’s lawyer from a firm in Minneapolis that Dorn said she had never seen in all her years of being an administrator. It causes athletic directors to be on their toes because if they blow it off, boom, an automatic one more year for the head coach. Dorn notified DeHoff before April 15 with a “letter of non-renewal.” DeHoff was not fired by it but “was operating under the non-renewal conditions of the contract,” Dorn said. In other words, make progress or that’s it.
“Administration must be atune to the evaluation process,” Dorn said. “They must be atune to the status of the program otherwise you can find yourself in an extension without any intention.” The Forum asked about the contract stipulation Thursday morning and put in an open record’s request for the document in the afternoon, but had yet to receive it. The press conference came later in the afternoon … this is not to say the request had anything to do with the timing of the announcement. It appears to be a coincidence.
- Coincidence because DeHoff pointed to social media as the reason for announcing her decision on Thursday — rather than waiting until after the season I suppose. I’ve been in this business since the 80s and this is a first; citing avenues like Facebook and Twitter and the effect of the comments on players as a reason to call it a Bison career right now. “Social media has really grown and is quite a learning lesson for coaches on how to educate student-athletes,” DeHoff said. “I think kids are unjustly beat up from social media and I have to take that off them because that’s on me.”
It’s difficult to verify this because we haven’t seen any samples of these social media comments. It’s surprising in the sense that interest, and attendance, in the program is at its lowest levels since probably the late 70s or early 80s. I’m on Twitter all the time and don’t recall any specific instance of a women’s basketball tweet toward a player and with the low interest in the program, there were hardly any tweets at all. I’m sure comments can get harsh, believe me, I’ve been the recipient of them since the 80s. Only instead of people phoning anonymously, they email anonymously. As to which I say: that’s fine, part of life in a public job. There is perhaps no resolution for the athletes other than kids, players, need to learn to ignore them. Don’t have a Twitter account. Stay off Facebook. It’s an interesting topic that will need to be further addressed by college administrators and coaches across the country.
Still, the bottom line in Division I athletics is winning. That ultimately led to Thursday’s announcement.