BY JEFF FALK
We may never know the specific reasons for Todd Goclowski’s sudden ousting. And whether or not we are owed any sort of explanation really depends upon one’s agenda.
But at least someone from Lebanon Valley College is now saying something.
On Tuesday afternoon, five days after he was relieved of his duties as the Flying Dutchmen’s women’s basketball head coach, the college’s Director of Marketing and Communications Marty Parks spoke publicly about Goclowski’s departure for the first time, in general terms. Parks granted Lebanon Sports Buzz an exclusive interview, after LVC athletic director Rick Beard had failed to respond to multiple requests for comments.
On Thursday afternoon, Beard had released a statement through the school’s Sports Information Department entitled ‘Lebanon Valley Announces Women’s Basketball Staff Changes’ which read ‘Lebanon Valley College has announced that it will not renew the appointment of Todd Goclowski, head coach of LVC’s women’s basketball program.
“On behalf of LVC, I want to thank Coach Goclowski for leading our women’s basketball program over the past eight years, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Director of Athletics Rick Beard ’90 M’92.
A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
During his seven years as Lebanon Valley College’s athletic director, Beard had never declined a request for an interview with this reporter. Goclowski also did not respond to requests for an interview, again for the first time in his eight-year writer-head coach relationship with this reporter.
And according to sources, members of the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball program were ‘advised’ not to speak to the media about Goclowski’s departure.
“I can’t go into much detail because it’s a human resource issue,” said Parkes. “Every college employee goes through an annual evaluation. All of us are evaluated on a one-year basis.
“The college is very grateful for the work he did here,” added Parkes. “We’re appreciative of his efforts. And we wish him the best.”
But this was more than your average exit interview gone awry.
Statistically-speaking, Goclowski’s winning percentage at Lebanon Valley – .757, 171-55 – makes him one of the most successful head coaches – if not ‘the’ most successful head coach – in the more than century-long history of athletics on the Annville campus. Once a struggling program, Goclowski helped transform women’s basketball into a consistent winner.
In the 2013-14 season that ended in March, the Flying Dutchmen compiled a 21-7 mark, LVC’s sixth 20-win season in Goclowski’s eighth year there. During that time, Lebanon Valley won three Commonwealth Conference championships, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first five times in program history and made seven appearances in the Commonwealth Conference title game.
“It’s a little bit unbelievable,” Goclowski told Lebanon Sports Buzz, after qualifying for the 2014 Commonwealth Conference title tilt in February. “It’s a tribute to the women in that locker room, and in a way, a tribute to the women who have been in that locker room before us. It’s exciting. But it’s a tribute to our student-athletes. It says a lot about our young women as players, student-athletes, and alumni. It’s a basketball family that has established itself with a terrific legacy.”
“I had no doubts that we could get to this point,” Goclowski continued. “I believe in my team. We expected to be where we hoped we’d be.”
“There are a lot of factors that are looked at, besides win-loss records,” said Parkes. “I would say we made a decision and needed new leadership.
“We certainly like the level of success on the court,” Parkes continued. “But there are other things involved. There’s the academic success of the players, community involvement, alumni relations. We’re looking to bring in a professional, and supplement those other factors.”
Under Goclowski’s guidance, the Flying Dutchmen were actively involved with their neighbors in the Lebanon community, through the annual and wildly-popular ‘Pink Game’ to benefit cancer research and by visiting patients at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Goclowski often related his program to family, always treated this reporter with respect and candidness and was careful to refer to his players as ‘young women’, not ‘girls’.
“I’m not experiencing any difficulties,” a curt Goclowski told Lebanon Sports Buzz, following a disheartening loss to Elizabethtown earlier in the year. “The growth of the team is taking longer than it should.
“They (his players) set their own goals,” Goclowski continued, “and they’re accountable for it. I don’t know what they are after today. It’s disappointing to see a team not play 40 minutes on a consistent basis.”
“We play to win,” said Parkes. “But at some time, we’re looking for a complete student experience. At the end of the day, we want student-athletes to develop into people of high caliber.
“At a school like our’s, about one-third of our students play at least one collegiate sport, some more,” Parkes continued. “Sports are very important. They’re important to us. We do all we can to make sure we have good teams and competitive facilities. Unlike some schools, here we have student-athletes – and that’s probably in the right order. They’re students first, and they’re athletes second.”
It may be that the reasons Goclowski was fired will remain a mystery. But typically head coach-athletic director relationships fall victim to personality conflicts, power struggles, money issues, parent or athlete over involvement, alumni concerns, or some unique combinations of those.
Also unclear is the last time that a Lebanon Valley head coach’s appointment was not renewed.
Beard, a resident of Cornwall and a graduate of Lebanon High School, has been Lebanon Valley’s director of athletics for the past seven years, after spending six years as an assistant to the position. During his tenure, LVC has instituted a number of new sports programs, as well as significant upgrades to its athletic facilities.
“No, not in our case,” said Parkes when asked if it was important for female athletic programs to be headed by female head coaches. “I’ve never thought of gender as being a determining factor for head coaches.
“That (a national search) entails making the position available on a national basis,” Parkes continued. “We’ll put it out there far and wide. We’re not limiting ourselves to local candidates.”
Parkes did not deny that members of the women’s basketball program were told to avoid contact with the media.
“Whenever there’s a human relations matter,” said Parkes, “there’s reasons to make sure the right people talk on the right topic at the right time.”
Great story! Absolutely no reason for firing one of the best coaches in NCAA Women’s basketball. It’s more disappointing that the President and trustees didn’t look into what’s really going on. They should’ve been looking at why the men’s program has been unsuccessful since 1994! You blew it LVC!!
Thank you, Mr. Parks, for your candid comments. I am happy to know exactly what you and the LVC administration think of the women who were recruited by Coach Goclowski over the past eight years. Apparently, they were not the caliber of student you are looking for. Oh, by the way – my daughter was one of those student athletes who were not good enough for you. I appreciate knowing your opinion of her before I receive my annual phone call requesting a donation to the Valley Fund. I am certain that if my daughter was not good for you, my money will not be good enough either. I hope you and the rest of the powers that be at LVC get the coach & women’s basketball program you are looking for. You deserve it. Shame on you. Shame. On. You.
Congrats to the players and parents along with Mr. Beard and all who destroyed the legacy of L.V.C WBB. You got your way. I hope you all sleep well at night and I hope that Karma knocks at your door. My daughter is a former player under coach Goclowski. A very proud player to have played under such an awesome coach. Controlling? Mean? Not worried about Academics? How wrong you all are. First let me address the Academics. During her four years under Coach there were times players missed practice due to classes.it was never an issue never a problem. When my daughter was struggling in a class he talked with her and another player who helped her. However your right he did not care..Really? Controlling? Hmmm maybe a little..because he cared about your daughters well being and did not want them making bad decisions. Shame on you coach for caring! Shame on you coach for instilling a team work attitude and that hard work pays off. What were you thinking.? Did you not know that spoiled little adult girls can just cry to their parents who can call you while drunk and complain to you and Mr. Beard. Shame on you Coach for working endless hours on watching tapes or recruiting just to make the WBB program a success..Shame on you Coach for having such a successful Pink Game for Cancer. As far as Alumni coming back and supporting L.V.C I guess it was just my imagination seeing former players and parents at the games. The fact my daughter graduated from L.V.C is a miracle since she evidently was not up to administrations standards with being a former player under Coach. All these things that are mentioned in the article are just a bunch of excuses for dismissing Coach. Get to the real reason. A bunch of spoiled brats that may not got the playing time they thought they should.. Mr. Beard and his personal reasons. If you look into the Academic success and the programs success of the former players you will see what a bad joke this all is. You had a coach who cared for this program and his players. All of them!!!! A coach whose job was made harder the past two years due to being watched like a hawk. Funny he was never suspended any game for his conduct like the Men’s coach.?? Wonder how the administration can explain this. ? This man taught my daughter that nothing in life is free but with hard work, commitment , working well with others and caring anything is possible. Shame on you Coach! I pray that Coach finds another school , another program , and makes it the success he made L.V.C.WBB.
Unbelievable!! I guess thats why the only response came from a marketing guy. They never really say anything do they! Todd was absolutely perfect for the job, The reasons cited–community outreach, academics–he did that part of the job as well as the coaching part. It gets very tiresome when over and over the excuse for a non response is its a human resource issue. Yea, it is-you fired the wrong guy!!! I’ve had [personal experience with both of the major people involved I and I know for certain where the strength of character resides.
Good luck coach-God Speed!
It is now July 8, 2014 and a new Head Coach has not been named. The NCAA evaluation period is down to 10 days. Way to screw the Women’s Basketball program Mr. Beard. Guess now you won’t have to come up with a reason to cancel the Rinso Tournament.
I attended a few girl’s games and always loved the way Todd Goclowski had his women play. I have had dealings with Mr. Beard and I have to say he’s always been very nice to me. But, why he keeps Brad McAlester who hasn’t really contributed anything noteworthy the past ten years is beyond me. My question to any of you is, was Brad suspended at any time during this season for uttering a profanity of some sort? Was he also suspended for one game as well? If so, what did he do and why hasn’t it been made known to the media and alumni? I am very curious about this. I also wonder what he has on the college that enables him to continue a mediocre coaching career.