(WFRV-TV) - Friday UW-Oshkosh named the first two of four finalists for its vacant head baseball coaching position. Later, they sent a revised press release indicating one of the candidates withdrew from consideration.
This was all news to former head coach Tom Lechnir, who spent 25 years as the leader of the Titans’ program, and has still not received a final decision after the third appeal of the non-renewal of his contract.
That appeal was heard by an ad-hoc committee 10 days ago. Lechnir and his attorney Jason Wied, as well as University representatives, were given an hour to support or refute the four claims that led to Lechnir’s contract not being extended after more than 30 years with the school.
"And in one hour they refuted strongly two of the four accusations the University is making,” Lechnir said Friday in an interview with Local 5.
The committee concluded that Lechnir’s side adequately proved that his program was sufficient in “Student Athlete Retention and Academic Success” and “Community Relations and Engagement” despite those being reasons by the university for the coach’s dismissal. The other two factors under debate were “Fundraising” and “Administrative Duties” and the committee decided that Lechnir “failed to carry his burden of persuasion” on those topics.
Because the results were mixed, the committee was unable to make a “specific and clear recommendation” to Chancellor Richard Wells, who will now make the decision alone.
The major area of contention continues to be the funding of Alumni Stadium, with both sides in disagreement over whether or not more than a quarter of a million dollars of debt exists on the project. The University claims Alumni Stadium was part of the entire Athletic Complex built on the campus, while Lechnir says the baseball stadium was always considered a separate fundraising effort.
"I've always known what the final result of the appeal would be;” Lechnir says of the expected result that he won’t be back. “Our Chancellor rules with absolute power. Everybody who works there knows it and that's why everybody's door is shut right now and their heads are low as they can possibly be because they are scared to death."
"Instead of getting an answer and being told what the Chancellor's decision is,” said Wied. “Tom gets copied with a letter that says this was not really an appeal, or related to his non-renewal as a coach. And he promises in the letter that ‘I've forward my action on this appeal to Tom Lechnir,’ but Tom never got the letter. Over and over again instead of being given answers, he's been slapped in the face. This latest announcement about the candidates for the coaching vacancy is the final slap in the face from the University."
Local 5 contacted UW-Oshkosh and were told Chancellor Wells would not be available for comment, but through their public relations department we weret old why the university was interviewing baseball coaching candidates without a final decision on Lechnir's appeal.
"We made it very clear when we made the decision to not offer Coach Lechnir a new contract we felt that it was important to go out and pursue a new coach,” University spokesman Alex Hummel said. “Go in a new direction, and get that process rolling."
Hummel says Chancellor Wells is expected to make his decision on Lechnir's status early next week. Lechnir, who was voted WIAC Coach of the Century, doesn't expect to be retained, but the battle to get his job back will continue.”
"Now we have to take the next step,” said Wied. “We expect our next step to be in court. This fight is far from over."
** Below is information on UW-Oshkosh's lone baseball coach finalist announced Friday. The school says another candidate withdrew from consideration after an earlier press release indicated two of the final four candidates had been decided.
(University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Press Release) - UW-Oshkosh has announced Bob Morgan as one of the three finalists for its head baseball coaching position.
Morgan's on-campus interview will be held Monday (Aug. 19), with an open university and community forum scheduled for 3:15 p.m. in room 161 of UW-Oshkosh's Kolf Sports Center (785 High Avenue).
Morgan has been associated with Indiana University the past 31 years, including the last nine as a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology. He served as the school's head baseball coach from 1983-2005 and guided the Hoosiers to a 782-496 record and the 1996 Big Ten championship. Morgan coached one National Player of the Year, 10 All-Americans, eight Academic All-Americans and two Olympians while being named Big Ten Coach of the Year in both 1993 and 1996. He entered the 2013 season ranked 46th in NCAA history with 1,070 coaching victories.
Previously, Morgan coached Kent State University (Ohio) to a 79-39 record from 1981-83 and The College of Wooster (Ohio) to a 213-48 mark from 1975-81. He guided the Indiana University club baseball team to a 125-25 record from 2006-11. The Ohio University graduate played three years for the Bobcats and pitched four seasons in the Detroit Tigers minor-league system.
The remaining two coaching finalists will be announced on Monday, with on-campus interviews scheduled for Wednesday (Aug. 21) and Thursday (Aug. 22).