Kyle Hawkins coached the Missouri lacrosse team for nine seasons. This year was his first losing season. It was also the first season that he coached the team as an openly gay man.
Hawkins was told last week that the school wouldn’t be renewing his contract.
According to Outsports, “Hawkins was informed of his termination in a meeting with a Missouri lacrosse leadership group that consisted of captains of the team, faculty advisors, assistant coaches, and a representative of the University. Hawkins said the group asked him to resign and he refused. His contract will run out May 31.”
Because of the team’s status as a ‘club sport’ and not an official varsity team, according to Outsports, decision-making is mostly up to the players.
Team president Andy Mackley told the Associated Press: ”We, as a team, did not feel coach Hawkins was the best man for the job. Sport is all we care about, not the sexuality of our coach, players and those associated with our team…His personal life had zero to do with our team”
Although one of the eight reasons the team gave Hawkins for not renewing his contract was his “negative reputation outside the school”, Hawkins notes that “a week and a half before the meeting, they had sat in front of the ESPN cameras and said what a great coach I was.”
The team’s faculty advisor, Karen Mitchell, told Outsports: “I can tell you that I spent nearly every game with this team in the fall and in the spring season. I got to know the guys very well. I’ve had a lot of one-on-one and small-group conversations with them. I can tell you that his sexuality has been a non-issue with this team. The issues for this team have been Kyle’s performance as a coach. If they let him go last year, it would have been, ‘Oh my god, he came out and then they fired him.’ They didn’t want that to be the perception. So, his contract was renewed with the understanding that this year he needed to improve his coaching ability.”
Although Hawkins argues that the reasons for his firing are “ridiculous”, he says he plans no legal action against the school.