Coaching openings at The Citadel, Winthrop as the list begins to grow

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The Citadel's Moriah Smith broke the program's all-time kills mark in her final match this season/The Citadel photo

Is there a tougher job in NCAA Division I women’s college-volleyball than The Citadel?

Perhaps not.

There were two more coaching openings created Monday, when The Citadel fired Craig Mosqueda and Bruce Atkinson resigned at Winthrop.

That came a day after Arlise Williams resigned at Georgetown and we reported here that Cal’s Matt McShane was on “a leave of absence.”

And we missed a couple: Brown coach Diane Short retired after 25 seasons and Toledo’s Greg Smith, who had been at the Ohio school for nine seasons, resigned.

The coaching carousel spins on and the season’s not over yet for most teams. Just wait until after this weekend when only those playing in the NCAA Tournament and NIVC are left.

We’ll get to Winthrop and Brown in a bit, but first The Citadel, which finished 8-26 this season, 2-14 in the Southern Conference — its most wins in league play since winning twice in both 2008 and 2009!

This is the statement from The Citadel athletics director Jim Senter,

“We have decided to make a change in the leadership of our volleyball program. This morning, I met with Craig and let him know, per the terms of his contract, he has been terminated without cause.

“I am most appreciative of the effort that Coach Mosqueda put into the volleyball enterprise at The Citadel. We wish Craig the best in his future endeavors. We will begin a search for a new head coach immediately.

The only thing missing was the the word “national” when talking about the search, but, again, more on that later.

The Citadel, located in Charleston, S.C., started volleyball in 1998 and went 0-24.

Here’s a synopsis of what has happened since:

The Citadel has won three conference matches one time, in 2004 under Wendy Anderson, who took over in 1999 and lasted until 2005, because the year after those three wins, the Bulldogs went 4-28, 0-18. Carolyn Geiger took over as coach and lasted until 2010. to her credit, she never had a winless conference season, but won a total of eight league matches in five seasons.

Then Amir Khaledi took over and he went 1-63 in four SoCon seasons, oh-for in the last three.

And then Mosqueda took over. He finished 7-28, 0-16 in 2015. Last year, The Citadel went 8-25 1-15. This season: 8-26, 2-14.

We reached out to Mosqueda, 23-79 in his three seasons, for a quote:

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work at The Citadel,” Mosqueda said. “It is truly a special place. We were able to do some special things in the three short years I was there.

“Of my three collegiate jobs, two in which I turned completely around, this one was the hardest place to get the team to buy into the need for a positive culture. I truly believe we were one season away from being able to create the culture we needed to be able to compete for a conference championship.

“In my second year, at The Citadel, we beat Furman, the defending conference champs, and this year we did the same when we knocked off Samford in three sets. I am thankful I had this opportunity but wish I had the last two years of my contract to prove I could turn this around.”

This season, The Citadel had its first-ever SoCon all-freshman selection in Puerto Rican Sharlissa DeJesus.

You can win at a military academy, which, if you didn’t know, The Citadel is one. It calls itself “The Military College of South Carolina.” This season, Navy lost to American in the Patriot League tournament final after finishing second in the conference. Army was third.

But can you win at The Citadel? History says no. Since starting the program, the team has a combined record of 132-511 overall, 16-312 in conference play.

As an aside, The Citadel also only fields women’s sports in cross country, golf, rifle, track and field and soccer. Speaking of soccer, in its 17 years as a women’s program at The Citadel, its record is 71-234. Its one winning season was 2010.

Simply put, it’s tough to win at The Citadel.

Winthrop, in Rock Hill, S.C., finished 18-14 this season, 8-8 in the Big South. Atkinson was 84-74 in his five seasons. The last time the Eagles were better than .500 in the conference was 2014 when they were 9-5.

The school’s athletic director, Ken Halpin, said this in a statement:

“We would like to thank Coach Atkinson for all of the work he has done in support of our student-athletes these past five years and sincerely wish him the best for his future.”

And, you guessed it, the statement added:

A national search for a replacement will commence immediately.

Brown last finished above .500 in the Ivy in 2013, when it was 12-13 overall, 8-6. In 2014, the the Brown Bears were 12-14, 7-7.

It’s been downhill since then, 10-16, 4-10 in 2015, 5-19, 3-11 last year and 7-18, 2-12 this season.

Short, who has been at Brown in Rhode Island since 1993, said in a university news release,”Over the past 25 years, I have been blessed to work with and coach so many incredible young women. The relationships that I have developed with players, coaches, and parents during that time will be cherished for the rest of my life.  I now look forward to the next chapter in my life where I will spend more time with my husband and family.”

And, you guessed, the statement from the athletic department included this:

A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

Toledo was 12-16 this season, 7-9 in the MAC. Smith was 102-161, 51-92 in his nine seasons.”I want to thank Greg for his commitment to our volleyball program and our student-athletes, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” Toledo AD Mike O’Brien said.

And the Toledo news release included, you guessed it:

O’Brien added that a national search for Smith’s replacement would begin immediately.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Lee why is it so hard for the Citadel, a university offering a great education, storied history and terrific alumni having such a difficult time in volleyball (and soccer)? Didn’t see any speculation on the question you raised. A typical Feinswog report would have included how the women do well in rifle or track and field. Women’s sports can succeed in Citadel. Lee, it’s about hair.

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