Missouri softball protests athletic department and Mack Rhoades

The team will continue to play but is protesting an athletics department investigation into the softball coaching staff.
Redshirt senior shortstop Sami Fagan hits a ball into left field during the second game against Wichita State on April 13. Fagan ended the game hitting three for her four times at bat and scoring three times.

Prior to Saturday’s game against South Carolina, the Missouri softball players announced that they were playing in protest of Mizzou Athletics and specifically athletics director Mack Rhoades.

In a release, the players state that the administration is “conducting a wholly unsubstantiated investigation of our softball program and the softball coaching staff,” and by playing under protest, the team made this investigation public. The release stated the investigation left an “emotional effect” on the team.

According to the softball players, the athletics department was conducting an “unjust” investigation into coach Ehren Earleywine, who was honored for his 10th season at Mizzou with a plaque prior to Saturday’s game. Missouri softball players have expressed how close they are with Earleywine in previous interviews with The Maneater, which they said is part of the reason why they are playing in protest of the administration today. “AD Mack Rhoades told us that we, the players, don’t have ANY say in who is the coach of our team,” the statement said. “We believe a gag order has been placed on our coaches.” The statement comes after a tension-filled fall season for the Missouri football team, which boycotted all football activities in the week leading up to the BYU game on Nov. 14 in protest of then-UM System President Tim Wolfe. Among the many comments in their statement, the Missouri softball players said that they believe the administration “was completely incompetent in handling the fall football scandal and they are doing a worse job at this,” referencing the investigation the administration has launched on the softball team. No. 14 Missouri softball is currently on a nine-game winning streak and is 13–9 in the Southeastern Conference. The team references their success in the statement saying: “The softball program under Erhen (sic) Earleywine is THE WINNINGEST PROGRAM IN THE HISTORY OF MISSOURI SPORTS.” A Mizzou Athletics spokesman declined to comment further. _Stay with The Maneater for updates to this story._

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