SAN DIEGO —
Student-athletes at CSU San Marcos are demanding change after the university decided not to renew the contracts for all assistant coaching positions from the athletic department. The university blames growing concerns of “sustainability” of its programs as fall sports have been postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Shelving the assistant coaching contracts for all 13 sports at CSUSM was a decision issued in a statement by Athletic Director Jennifer Milo via email on June 17.
“From an operational standpoint, due to the suspension of fall play, we had to take some steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of our department,” the email read in part.
However, some student-athletes said the move was premature and inhibits the success of the teams for when they reconvene once it's safe.
Student-athletes tweeted about the transpiring events, posting statements to Instagram in protest of the university’s decisions — accusing the university of firing the coaches rather than the school’s phrasing of “not renewing contracts.”
“We’re calling this a 'firing' because they’re not getting their contracts renewed,” said Akayla Hackson, a CSUSM women’s basketball player. “They say they will bring [assistant coaches] back, but they have to go through the same hiring process.”
Student-athletes said the information provided from the university during this process lacks any guarantee the coaches will be brought back.
Blake Seits, a men’s basketball player, issued a statement on social media to voice his disagreement with the school’s decision.
“Although we have been told that this is a ‘temporary’ action, we have been given no guarantee that our coaches will be back,” according to Seits’ statement. “We have been left in the dark on these decisions being made that directly affect us.”
Seits said he communicated with his assistant coach multiple times a week despite the virus keeping them from practicing.
“Since we went into quarantine, he has been vital to our team,” Seits said. “They don’t know the effect that assistant coaches have on a program.”
Both Hackson and Seits said it was a hasty decision made by the university in order to save money and the school should have looked at other positions instead of assistant coaches. According to Hackson, athletic department positions like social media workers and facility/equipment managers are still being paid.
“Obviously we don’t want anybody to be fired, but we are just trying to understand and we want communication with our school and I feel like we aren’t getting it,” Hackson said.
As of Thursday evening, none of the assistant coaches would respond to requests for comment on the decision, other than one who wished to remain anonymous.
“I understand why they had to do it, but they claim to be [about] people and relationships but this was not about people,” according to a memo sent from the source.
The California State University system as a whole is preparing for budget cuts due to the coronavirus prohibiting most in-person events. Up to $1 billion is expected to be cut from funding in Governor Gavin Newsom’s final state budget.
Assistant Director of Athletics, Communications Krissty Andaur, said the assistant coaches are not being fired, and that it is only their contracts not being renewed.
“We fully intend to rehire assistant coach positions once COVID-19 is defeated and we have a clear direction that is safe to restart practice and competition in person,” Andaur said in part in an email.
Seits’ statement on Twitter and Instagram gained a few hundred likes and multiple story shares. He also said the statement was sent to the university administration as a letter.
So far, no reversal or further clarifications were given by the university about the state of the coaching positions.