Bob Allen has stepped down from his position as coach of the West Virginia State University softball team, the school’s athletic director, Sean Loyd, wrote in an email Sunday.
Allen will tell you a different story altogether.
The Yellow Jackets (11-13 overall, 2-4 Mountain East Conference) are currently on a week-long road trip that saw the team play at West Liberty on Sunday and at Wheeling Jesuit today. State continues the trip with doubleheaders at Belmont Abbey on Wednesday, Virginia-Wise on Saturday and at Concord on Sunday. Loyd refuted the claim of one source that said Allen had been fired less than one year after leading the team to the West Virginia Conference Tournament title in the league’s final year of existence.
“Bob Allen resigned as Head Softball Coach on March 28, 2014. He was not removed from his position,” Loyd’s email states. “Kerri Blackwell has assumed the duty of Acting Head Softball Coach for the remainder of the season.”
Loyd added that the university will conduct a search for a full-time replacement for Allen at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Though asked to elaborate on the situation, Loyd offered no further information.
“WVSU is trying to get their ducks in a line,” Allen said Sunday evening. “Sean and Kerri had this deal worked out a long time ago.
“It’s crap. It’s crap. I’ve given that university thousands of dollars out of my own pocket, almost built that softball field myself and that’s how they want to repay me?”
Allen said he intends to visit an attorney today to seek a resolution to the situation. He said Sunday that he believes he has been discriminated against because of his age. Allen is 67 years old.
Allen, who said he has not signed a letter of resignation, last coached State when it fell in a doubleheader sweep to Charleston on March 27 in Institute. The Golden Eagles won a pair of games by scores of 9-4 and 9-1. He was the only member of the WVSU staff that attended those games, however. Blackwell was not in attendance, and neither was assistant coach Nip Anderson.
A verbal altercation that occurred between Blackwell and Allen on March 26 led to Allen’s firing of Blackwell, he said. Allen said that following a meeting with his players, he was met with complaints by Anderson and Blackwell that they were not invited.
“I told Kerri ‘You’re either with me or against me,’ and she said ‘You’ll have to fire me,’” Allen said. I talked to Sean Loyd later that day and he backed me 100 percent and said that I could terminate her, so I did.”
Allen said he received a phone call Friday from Loyd telling the coach that several parents of players had called the university expressing concern over Allen’s ability to drive the team to its weekend games in Ohio County.
“Cal Bailey’s older than me, and I know for a fact that he drives the baseball team,” Allen said in reference to the State baseball coach.
Allen said he then visited Loyd’s office on the WVSU campus, and asked the athletic director if it would be better on Loyd if Allen resigned.
“There were tears and everything else,” Allen said. “But then I get all these people calling me and they hear what happened and they all say the same thing: ‘You’ve been set up.’”
Blackwell was put in charge of the program that day, Also Friday, freshman pitcher and first baseman Bekah Baldwin, a former All-State selection at Sissonville High School, left the team as did Point Pleasant product Megan Davis. Baldwin had played in six games and was 3-of-7 hitting. She had pitched 11 1/3 innings, had no decisions and a 4.94 earned run average.
Davis was a freshman shortstop who had a two-run single in her only plate appearance this season. Sophomore pitcher-utility player Codi Evick, a Pendleton County gruaduate, also quit.
Allen said that he submitted an email to Loyd and WVSU president Brian Hemphill that stated he rescinded his offer to resign and that in order to remove him from his position the school would have to fire him.
Allen has a career record of 330-189, having taken over the WVSU program after coaching at Nitro High School. The Yellow Jackets won two West Virginia Conference championships under his direction, and qualified for the NCAA tournament three times.
Blackwell had been named head-coach-in-waiting prior to the incident that led to Allen’s current situation, Allen said. However, he noted there was a stipulation that went along with that recongition of the assistant.
“They told me that I could coach until I turned 70 years old,” Allen said.
While he said he would like to be reinstated to his position, Allen offered a parting shot at the school.
“If that’s the way West Virginia State University is going to go about treating its employees, a lot of people are going to back up a little bit,” Allen said.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.