In a surprise move, Indiana State relieved softball coach Shane Bouman of his duties on Monday.
Bouman was let go 25 games into an ISU season in which the Sycamores were 13-12. Mid-season firings are unusual in college athletics. ISU Director of Athletics Sherard Clinkscales said the following in a university statement.
“Over the last year, coach Bouman and I had multiple discussions and came to a mutual understanding concerning the management of the softball program,” Clinkscales said. “I have learned that these standards have not been upheld.”
Clinkscales later elaborated more on the decision to let Bouman go in the middle of his sixth season. A message left for Bouman was not returned by the Tribune-Star's press time.
"Shane and I have had discussions about the environment I wanted our student-athletes to be a part of. That is something that, unfortunately, has not happened. It's been closely monitored, and unfortunately, it came to a point where I needed to make a decision. I was compelled to make a decision that was in the best interests of our athletes at Indiana State," Clinkscales said.
Clinkscales was asked if there was a specific incident that led to Bouman's ouster.
"I want to emphasize there was no illegal activities involving any of the students. This is simply a culture I want our students to thrive. I didn't believe the culture was there for that happen," Clinkscales said.
Bouman, who finished with a 118-172 record at ISU, is known for an intense nature. Clinkscales was asked whether Bouman's personality had created the environment where the standards given to Bouman were not adhered to.
"When I played at Purdue, where coach [Dave] Alexander [baseball] and coach [Gene] Keady [basketball] would have times when they shared things with me that weren't exactly pleasant. I always knew they cared about me and wanted me to be successful," Clinkscales said. "I'm not going to specifically say there was anything was said [by Bouman]. The environment just wasn't conducive for student-athletes to able to thrive and excel beyond their abilities."
"Over the last year-and-a-half, with Shane, that culture has not yielded that kind of environment that I want," Clinkscales added.
Without question, Bouman's shining moment as ISU coach was the Sycamores' 2015 NCAA Tournament qualification. Though the Sycamores had the eighth and final seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in 2015, the Sycamores ran the table, winning four games en route to a surprise championship and automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Playing in the Columbia Regional, the Sycamores went 1-2 in the regional, knocking out Louisville in the process. The win over Louisville was one of just three ISU has had in any sport in a NCAA competition in the 21st Century. (Men's basketball's win over Oklahoma in 2001 and football's win over Eastern Kentucky in 2014 are the others.)
"I know that Shane believes and gave all he could to be able to help the program reach a level it wanted to be. This wasn't an easy decision, but my charge given to me is to make sure the environment is there to grow in a collegial atmosphere, to graduate and get into the NCAA championships," Clinkscales said. "In my estimation, that's not where we were and I'm confident as we move forward we'll find someone who will do it the way I like it to be done."
Clinkscales said a decision on who would run the team for the remainder of the season would be made later this week. ISU next hosts Northern Iowa on Saturday in a MVC contest.