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Gay Lacrosse Coach Out After 9 Seasons

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Gay Lacrosse Coach Out After 9 Seasons

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press writer

Mon May 14, 4:52 PM

br-65418.jpg Kyle Hawkins, University of Missouri men's lacrosse team coach, ...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The openly gay coach of the Missouri men's lacrosse team was told his contract will not be renewed after nine seasons. Team leaders said Kyle Hawkins was dismissed because of his job performance, not his sexual orientation.

Hawkins recently completed his first season as head coach after publicly disclosing his homosexuality. The team finished with a 6-9 record, Hawkins' first losing season at the school.

As a club sport, the Missouri lacrosse team largely controls its budget and hiring decisions.

"We, as a team, did not feel coach Hawkins was the best man for the job," team president Andy Mackley said. "Sport is all we care about, not the sexuality of our coach, players and those associated with our team."

Mackley, a junior who briefly played for Hawkins in high school, called the decision "strictly business" and hailed Hawkins as a "pioneer" for his decision to be known as one of the few openly gay coaches in college sports.

"His personal life had zero to do with our team," Mackley said.

While Hawkins said he consulted with a lawyer, as did the team, he doesn't plan a legal challenge.

"I don't have anything to gain by going after them legally," he said.

Hawkins said he learned of the decision May 4 in a meeting with team leaders, an assistant coach, faculty advisers and a university official. Hawkins said the group offered eight reasons not to renew his annual contract, which expires May 31.

Among the concerns: dissatisfaction with his practice regimen and the coach's negative reputation outside the school.

"Those are laughable," Hawkins said. "A week and a half before the meeting, they had sat in front of the ESPN cameras and said what a great coach I was."

Karen Mitchell, the team's faculty adviser, said Hawkins had unrealistic expectations.

"He was just no longer compatible with a club sport," she said. "He's made lacrosse his life."

"These guys aren't going to be professional lacrosse players," Mitchell added. "Lacrosse is secondary to most of them, And he's not happy with that."

Hawkins said he has received at least one job offer and interest from other schools, including varsity programs in Division II and III. His career record is 127-58, including a conference championship in 2004.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

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