Campus Corner

Mack Rhoades on Ehren Earleywine investigation: ‘We’re still waiting’

Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine
Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine AP

Missouri’s internal investigation into softball coach Ehren Earleywine entered a fourth month Friday and it’s unclear if there’s any resolution in sight.

“We’re still waiting,” Tigers athletic director Mack Rhoades said Friday when asked about the investigation’s status during an introductory news conference for new baseball coach Steve Bieser. “I know it’s a question on everybody’s mind and we’re just still in the waiting process.”

The investigation became a Title IX issue, which is handled by the university and not the athletic department. That investigation that remains ongoing.

“We’re waiting on the process and the finality of the university’s investigation,” Rhoades said.

Asked if he had a feel whether Earleywine would be back as Mizzou’s coach next season, Rhoades said, “I don’t.”

He added, “At this point, it is (out of our hands) — and it has been for a while. We’ll wait to see what the investigation says. For me to predict what it will say or the outcome, I have no idea.”

Earleywine is alleged to have engaged in a pattern of verbal abuse toward players, several of whom sent a letter outlining concerns about his behavior to Rhoades in a few weeks into the 2016 season.

That prompted Rhoades to launch an investigation, but he never saw fit to suspend Earleywine, a fact he also explained Friday.

“Probably, the clearest way is that we just didn’t feel that was necessary and we weren’t putting our student-athletes at risk,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades said he and Earleywine have “touched base maybe once a week” through June, but there have been few conversations of substance.

“I haven’t had much contact with anybody the last couple weeks because of the search (for a new baseball coach),” Rhoades said.

He said there was concern about the investigation dragging on, because some players might transfer if Earleywine stays and others might choose to leave if he’s fired, but there is dwindling time for players to find a new program with the fall semester approaching.

“It puts everybody in a hard position,” Rhoades said. “Now, the priority in all of this is it’s done well, done thoroughly and done right.”

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer