After just over one year at the helm of the mens volleyball program at Mount Royal College, Mark Paas has been replaced as head coach.
the team is now on its third coach in under two years.
Paas, in a phone interview with the Reflector, says he was fired last week, after a discussion with Athletics Manager Mark Kosak regarding the amount of teaching time offered tot he former head coach. He also says that some of the volleyball players that he spoke to indicated that they were told that heir former coach had quit, resigned, or had a mutual parting of ways, things Paas says are untrue.
"Its been tough for me," says Paas. "I have to defend myself."
In his defense, Kosak says that he has never told anyone that Paas had quit.
"This has not put us in a good position," says Kosak, who says that the didnt want to be in the position of "going in to the first week of the school year with no coach in place."
"Im quite happy that at least were moving forward," says Kosak. "We just want to play and move on."
Coming in to replace Paas is Mike Henry, who was the assistant coach at the University of Calgary.
"I wish him all the best of luck," says Paas.
Paas came in as head coach during the summer of 1999, replacing Rod Durrant. In a previous interview, Durrant said that he didnt leave on his own terms, and that he wanted to stay with the team. Paas had a similar point of view.
Paas says he originally turned down an offer to coach the cougars, which didnt offer enough income. He says he finally accepted the position when he was told he would be given additional employment with Campus Recreation.
However, Paas was later told that as of December 1999, that his only position within the college would be as head coach. He expressed his concerns, but continued to coach, and come summer, went about the business of recruiting players and preparing for the upcoming season.
"I didnt want to bail on the team," says Paas. And when, with two weeks left until the start of the fall semester, his teaching load was reduced from three classes to one, he sought out a meeting with Kosak. Paas says it was during this meeting that Kosak fired him, after a disagreement arose in the discussion.
"I wouldnt characterize the meeting in that way," says Kosak, who says that he informed Paas in the meeting that his contract would not be renewed. He says that he had no knowledge of Paas teaching load, but that the Athletics department was doing "everything we could" to accommodate the coach.
The day after the meeting with Kosak, Paas says he met with Athletics Director Brian Fleming. Paas claims that Fleming asked him to resume his coaching duties. Paas says he told Fleming that he would only come back if Kosak would be removed from his current position.
Fleming admits he met with Paas the next day, but denies that he offered Paas his old job back.
One college student, who was recruited by Paas and is currently trying out for the team, says he knew Paas was having problems, and that he wanted more classes.
Initially, the student, who wished to remain anonymous, was told that Paas resigned, but was later told that "it was a mutual thing."
But the student questions why two coaches have been removed from the mens volleyball program within the past two years.
"Why would any coach want to come here?" asked the student, who was also aquatinted with former coach Durrant, whose contract was not renewed in May of 1999. the student questioned the sense of releasing Durrant as well, saying "why fire a coach who had just won nationals?"
Kosak says there is no connection in the release of the coaches.
"Its an unfortunate coincidence," he says. "The two situations have nothing to do with each other."
Kosak admits that recent events have left an "impression that this has something to do with the particular sport." He denies that there is a problem with the volleyball program, but admits that "the question is floating around the volleyball community."
"Ill just say this," says Durrant, now with the Alberta Volleyball Association, when asked if he experienced problems in his leaving. "We won two national championships, and my contract was not renewed. You read between the lines."