Swimmers met with AD before mid-season firing of Ohio University coach Greg Werner

  9 Jared Anderson | January 29th, 2014 | College, Featured, NCAA Division I Mid-Major, News

New information has surfaced in a story we reported last fall on the surprise mid-season firing of Ohio University swim coach Greg Werner.

Fired just a month into his 19th season as the Bobcats head coach, Werner was abruptly fired on October 24 with no explanation given by the athletic department save for a statement from Athletic Director Jim Schaus thanking Werner for his years of service and expressing a desire to “move the program in a different direction.”

Now The Post, Ohio University’s student newspaper, has reported that 17 of the 18 women swimmers on the team at the time met with Schaus the day before Werner’s firing where the student-athletes told the AD that they were unhappy and stressed, and expressed concern about the program.

The Post followed up with an editorial requesting an explanation from the OU Athletic Department on the specific reasons for Werner’s firing.

Reached by phone, Ohio Assisstant Athletic Director for Media Relations Tom Symonds did confirm that a meeting took place the day before Werner’s firing, but he said that the meeting was called by the Athletic Department to let the athletes know about the coaching change before the information was made public, not called by the athletes to air grievances with Coach Werner as was implied in The Post.

“We called the meeting to inform the team as to the future direction of our swimming and diving program,” Symonds said. “We wanted the swimmers to hear from us and not through the press.”

Symonds said he didn’t know if there were any earlier meetings where the team might have met with Athletic Department members to issue complaints about Werner’s coaching.

The timeline of events leading up to Werner’s firing are still a bit fuzzy. According to The Post, the complaint meeting between swimmers and Athletic Director Jim Schaus took place October 23rd. On October 24, Werner was officially suspended for a week, and once that week was over, Werner was served notice of his termination. That was on October 31, but Werner’s letter of termination is dated October 24, suggesting his firing was part of the plan a week before he was notified of it. More strangely, Ohio University named then-second-year assistant Derick Roe as interim head coach and released it’s statement on Werner’s separation from the program on October 30th.

It’s still unclear when the meeting Symonds talked about (to inform athletes of Werner’s termination) occurred, and the Athletic Department would not make any athletes or coaches available to the media for comment.

The Ohio University Athletic Department has roundly refused to comment any further on the reasons behind Werner’s mid-season termination, an action that raised eyebrows with many as Werner was the winningest swimming coach in school history and had led the Bobcats to 11 MAC Championships in 18 seasons.

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9 Comments on "Swimmers met with AD before mid-season firing of Ohio University coach Greg Werner"

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2 years 8 months ago

Very surprised by all of this. After spending time at camps and being around OU swimming for many years I never thought it would come to this.

Someone in the know
2 years 8 months ago

The swimmers met (called a meeting) with the athletic department two times before the firing. The athletic department may have called a meeting to give the swimmers a heads up before the firing, but it wasn’t the first time they met.

Everyone that knows Greg, knows he’s a great coach, and a great person. It’s unfortunate that the team turned on him, and the administration didn’t have his back. I suppose being the winningest coach in the program’s history isn’t enough these days when athletes complain. Times sure have changed.

2 years 8 months ago

From a related article, now athletes can get the coach fired because they don’t like his training methods. NICE!
“A major concern was the type of training methods Werner employed, which they said were focused on “quantity over quality.”
However, Werner said his workouts were actually focused on performing quality repetitions through dryland routines and cross training.
“At the time of my termination we hadn’t even gone an entire two-hour swimming practice yet, which is what we normally would do,” Werner said. “We hadn’t started our competition yet and that’s key, because competition adds meaning and purpose to our daily training.”

Someone who cares
2 years 8 months ago

Keep digging Swim Swam. I believe this story is very symbolic of a shift that’s taking place in the wider sport of swimming.

2 years 8 months ago

Shame on the OU athletic department for letting a bunch of college kids and their parents run the show. Is there anyone left out there with a spine?

“student-athletes told the AD that they were unhappy and stressed”

Rather incredible that this is all it takes to get a good man fired from a job in which he excelled….and he has a new wife and a three year old son as well.

OU – I hope you feel real good about this move!!

2 years 8 months ago

This seems to be a new trend for Ohio University to get rid of the dependable, tried & true to be replaced with the young, inexperienced & easily manipulated. Coach Werner has stood up, defended & fought for his Bobcats on many issues to keep the success & integrity of his sport & his many OU teams. Rather then deal with any opposition, it was time for OU to find reason to terminate this man so they could move the program in a different direction…one can only speculate what direction that is…Watch out other staff…the next job may be yours! I, too, hope you keep digging Swim Swam.

Embarrassed Bobcat
2 years 8 months ago

I am embarrassed. I used to have so much pride for our program: a great coach, classy swimmers, and a record of success in both the pool and the classroom. How can one group of unhappy swimmers – only a couple months into the season – bring down such a successful coach?

Let’s just be frank – these girls are entitled and ran to mommy and daddy when things were not as they wished. The swimmers did not act like adults, the administration didn’t show any backbone, and OU is an embarrassment.

Thank you, Swim Swam, for looking into it. I hope you keep digging, too.

Former bobcat emphasis on the former
2 years 7 months ago

Anyone checking out the results? Looks like these girls are getting put in their place.

2 years 7 months ago

Not an OU Fan is right on the money. The only scandal here is how the OU AD is screwing Werner and the future of the team. Naively, the girls and their helicopter parents don’t realize what a pawn they’ve been for this firing. The AD has been systematically cutting this program, both monetarily and with staff cuts, such as lacking full access to ancillary staff over the past years, including strength and conditioning and athletic training. Now they’ve dropped the salary to assistant coaching level. Can we say ageism at the least?

After finishing next to last in the MAC, I bet the girls are rethinking their complaints on Werner’s coaching approach. Well, at least practices weren’t hard, right?

Worst part is the AD won’t make any statement on the firing which implies some sort of impropriety occurred by Werner, which is the furthest from the truth. It’s completely spineless. This guy fought for this team. Any program would be lucky to have Werner as their coach.

If you were a swim coach looking, would you go to OU for this job?


About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career sixteen years and running wasn’t enough for this native Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every …

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