The National Fastpitch Coaches Association issued a public reprimand of Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine in its August newsletter.
According to an article published in the NFCA’s “Fastpitch Delivery,” Earleywine has repeatedly violated the organization’s code of ethics with “questionable comments and actions over the last three years.”
The article cited several violations, including comments Earleywine made about Murray State’s softball program and one of its players in a May 2012 Columbia Tribune article.
After a split with the Racers, Earleywine called the performance embarrassing, suggesting it was a team the Tigers should run-rule and that their winning pitcher didn’t deserve credit, “because she was so common.”
Earlywine also made comments deemed unprofessional about his women’s softball coaching colleagues in a May 2014 article on espnW.com.
NFCA also was unhappy about two ejections and subsequent suspensions last season, including one incident when he made contact with an umpire.
The final straw was an espnW.com report that detailed a vitriolic exchange between Earleywine and Missouri State coach Holly Hesse about the Bears’ decision to drop the Tigers from future schedules.
“These repeated episodes of unprofessionalism only hurt the profession of fastpitch softball coaching and set a bad example for student-athletes,” NFCA executive director Lacy Lee Baker said in a statement. “This was apparent when watching some of the Missouri players’ [sic] applaud his unsportsmanlike behavior with an umpire in the Mississippi State game, which resulted in a two-game suspension by the SEC.”
The NFCA, according to then newsletter, resulted in embarrassment for the sport, MU and the SEC when reported in the mainstream media.
New Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades doesn’t take such criticism lightly.
“It bothers me,” Rhoades said. “And Ehren knows that, because I’ve told him. Ehren and I sat down after the email incident. Ehren is an unbelievable competitor, and Ehren’s a good person. What makes him such a great and fiery competitor sometimes gets him into trouble a little bit. I think he’ll be the first to tell you, he’s got to grow in that area. There’s a time and place for it and how you do it. I have certainly challenged him that he’s got to learn the difference.”
Future violations might result in Earleywine’s suspension or dismissal from the NFCA, a move that would render Missouri unable to nominate players or staff for the organization’s various annual awards.
Earleywine declined comment through an MU athletic department spokesman: “Ehren is aware of the NFCA reprimand and has looked it over. He issued a statement and apology after the last incident noted in the NFCA reprimand, and he has no further comment on the latest developments.”
While Earleywine’s tactics and personality might rankle his colleagues, his track for success is undeniable. Missouri has reached the NCAA Tournament in all nine seasons he’s been in the dugout.
The Tigers are 411-138 in his tenure and, including Earleywine’s time at Georgia Tech, he boasts the 13th-highest winning percentage among active NCAA Division I softball coaches at .743.
Earleywine’s current contract runs through June 30, 2018.