Wichita State fired Gene Stephenson as a baseball coach, and he wants people to know.
We would never quit, he wrote in a text message after his public comments Tuesday failed to clarify the exact nature of his departure after 36 years with the Shockers.
A visibly upset Stephenson had announced Tuesday afternoon that he was no longer Wichita States baseball coach. His tenure included a national championship and seven College World Series appearances, but fewer returns in recent seasons.
I am sorely disappointed about the way this went down, Stephenson said. I dont think it was handled properly, but its not up for me to decide. We gave 36 years of our very best here.
Stephenson, 67, said that he does want to coach again.
I do hope that somebody somewhere will want us, he said. But I love the opportunity that we had at Wichita State.
The players that have been here in this program, and the joy that they have brought to us so many times over and the wonderful teams and the things they have done. And I want to thank the fans the boosters, the people who have donated their time and money who have made this program something special.
Athletic director Eric Sexton called the decision difficult.
Ultimately, we have to focus on what is the long-term best interest of a great long-term program, he said. I cant think of programs that have a single chapter that has been written so storied and so great, under Gene Stephensons leadership. It is time for us to look for that second chapter.
Wichita State hired Stephenson in 1977, and he guided the team to a national title in 1989. They finished this season 39-28.
| Paul Suellentrop,
The Wichita Eagle