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Moss says move chastises, embarrasses him

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Former UNCW men's basketball coach Benny Moss and his attorney J. Wesley Casteen released the following statements to the media Friday morning. The releases came after a press conference at UNCW in which Athletic Director Kelly Mehrtens announced Moss had been reassigned to other duties within the athletic department.

Moss's and Casteen's statements are below unedited:

In responding to the newspaper and television reports that he has been fired by UNCW, Benny Moss says:

Yesterday [Thursday, January 28, 2010], I met with UNCW Athletic Director, Kelly Mehrtens. The topic of that meeting obviously centered on the present direction of the men’s basketball team. We discussed possible reasons behind the lackluster record, and we also discussed my plans and expectations for improvement. Ms. Mehrtens indicated that she was considering relieving me of my duties as Head Coach and reassigning me within the Athletics Department. We were scheduled to meet again this morning [Friday, January 29, 2010]. At the meeting this morning, I was presented with a letter from the AD regarding reassignment; however, I have neither had an opportunity to fully review the contents of the letter nor evaluate the impact of the reassignment in light of my existing contract with University.

Despite Ms. Mehrtens apparent conclusion that the situation is hopeless, I tried to explain to her why I believe that the remainder of the season shows promise and offers opportunity for improvement. The remaining nine games of the season represent the weaker part of the schedule. Admittedly, the team has struggled against stronger opponents and suffered from an aggressive and challenging early season schedule. Nevertheless, the team is likely to enjoy several wins as it finishes out the season and enters the conference tournament.

The season has not been without its successes. The Seahawks enjoyed a win against Penn State, and the team defeated William and Marry when the Tribe was a top-ranked RPI team. The team has had other strong showings against Wake Forest and Miami. Several losses were by close margins, including the University of Richmond, and others were the result of winning shots by opponents in the closing seconds, including the University of Virginia.

While the AD has lost confidence in my abilities as a coach and the team’s ability to win, I remain confident that the existing staff and team would be capable of returning UNCW’s men’s basketball program to its winning tradition. We have seen improvement through the year, and the team has been excited about prospect of finishing the season strongly and playing well in the CAA conference tournament.

Regardless of the current record, the team, coaching staff, and I deserved the opportunity to finish out the season and demonstrate the true potential of the team. The almost unprecedented decision to relive me of my duties as Head Coach in mid-season does nothing to benefit the program. It serves only as a mechanism to chastise and embarrass me personally.

Coaches are graded almost exclusively by wins and losses. Lost in those statistics are the efforts and commitments of coaches to a program and its players. I would like to thank my coaching staff for their commitments to the program, and most importantly, I thank the players for their individual and collective efforts. It has been my privilege to serve the UNCW men’s basketball program as Head Coach.

Ultimately, it is the Head Coach that shoulders the blame for a challenged program. Our players undoubtedly posses the physical skills to win. My job as Head Coach is to instill confidence, increase maturity, and develop mental toughness within those young players. I am hopeful and confident that I have had a positive impact on the players. To the extent that I have been unsuccessful in securing wins for the University and its supporters, I accept responsibility. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly disagree with the actions taken by the University.

Moving forward, my primary concerns will be for my family. I am examining my options at UNCW and in coaching. I am confident that the program will weather this storm, as will I.

J. Wesley Casteen, Esq., CPA, attorney for Coach Moss, gives the following statement:

Coach Moss and I spoke last evening [Thursday, January 29, 2010] after the online report by the Star News and television reports of his firing. Coach Moss was entirely hopeful that the AD would reconsider her decision. That obviously did not happen.

The advance release of this information demonstrated an extreme disrespect for Coach Moss and the men’s basketball program. These actions and their timing represent an egregious insult to Coach Moss and an extreme disservice to the men’s basketball program. The early release of this information deprived Coach Moss of the opportunity to properly address the proposed actions with his staff and players. It was unfortunate that persons dedicated to the program initially heard the news as part of a television news broadcast or read it online.

The timing and implementation of the decision to remove Benny Moss as Head Coach could hardly be more disruptive for the staff and players. The decision announced immediately before Homecoming assures that is has the effect of compounding the insult to Coach Moss. In removing the Head Coach mid-season, the University has destroyed any opportunity for a fair evaluation of Coach Moss and the program.

Coach Moss’ employment contract with the University identifies as its Primary Purpose the “Education” of the student athletes. The men’s basketball program under Coach Moss has achieved recognition from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for it graduation rate. During Benny Moss’ tenure as Head Coach, every senior graduated and all five (5) current seniors are on track to graduation. This commendable accomplishment is one often overlooked in the pursuit of winning records.

As previously reported, Coach Moss has three (3) years left on his coaching contract with UNCW. We have not yet determined how the reassignment affects that contract. Coach Moss has worked to fulfill his commitments under the contract, and his expectations are that the University will fully fulfill its obligations under the same.

No further information is available at this time. Additional statements may follow later.

-J. Wesley Casteen, Esq., CPA

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This move gives UNCW a bad reputation

It's simple, the move to force Moss out will only serve to ruin the school's reputation and make future prospects for head coach much harder to find. If I were considering taking such a position at UNCW, I wouldn't because they have made it clear, they don't respect nor value the position and the person occupying it.

The way this was done: Horribly disrespectful to Moss, his staff, the players, fans and student body.

The honorable thing to do would be to allow Moss to finish the season, give him an opportunity to resign, and buy out the remainder of his contract.

But it's too late for that now and the person(s) in charge of making this decision should be reassigned to janitorial duty or terminated altogether. They could learn a thing a two from the Janitors who probably know more about respect and perhaps more about leadership.

Just remember, when contacting potential replacements for this position, they will do their research and most likely find this to be a turn off. It will not give them a sense of stability and therefore, why should they move their family here? It's not always about the money. It's about the level of respect and stability one desires when selecting their next place of employment.

Moss deserves much better - Ath Dept/boosters are a joke

Absolutely ridiculous what has happened. Boosters should stay out of it and things should be handled professionally. This is college basketball. Take a look at your Athletic Program. Coach Moss deserved much better.

Best of luck to Coach Moss. He'll find a much better place to coach ball and raise his family. Hang in there Benny.

Moss should be ashamed

I sat on the sidelines directly behind Mr Moss and his team during a recent game. I listened to him verbally lambaste his team for the entire game. Nothing positive was said and the kids not surprisingly played uninspired. Coach Moss should learn from this and move on.

Sincerity and effort don't

Sincerity and effort don't mean that a person is competent. Coaches are evaluated and judged on the win/loss records of the teams they coach. They know that when they accept a job as coach. When a team loses regardless of how much the coach tried to encourage them to win or how much effort he expended to make the team successful, the team's record determines his future.

I don't know Benny personally but I'm certain he knew the risks of accepting a job as coach. He didn't ask UNCW to reduce his salary when the team had a losing record. He could always blame the players and say they didn't score as many points as he thought they should or could but his job is to teach them how to win and to develop their potential so that the team wins.

Since the team has not been a winner, the choice of who to fire should be based on who has responsibility for assessing the ability of the players to achieve their potential and to teach them how to do that. That's the responsibility of any coach in any sport.

The players rely on the coach to teach them how to develop their raw skills and become a cohesive organization that can win games. Admittedly the coach doesn't score points but he is responsible for teaching others how to do that. When the team loses, the coach has to accept responsibility for that failure and not attribute the causes to others.

His reaction

hire a lawyer.

If principle counts for something, one would think he would go quietly into the night after his attorney arranges a buy-out of the remaining 3 years in his contract.

Coaches are hired to do 2 things. Win games and graduate students. At some schools the former takes precedent over the latter.

Unfortunately, the loss to Hofstra was an embarrasment to the school and to Coach Moss.

He embarrassed himself with that loss before the school showed him the door.

Let him finish the season

This liberal think tank of higher learning is not truly committed to athletics. If you are going to participate in Division I athletics, there needs to be a strong commitment from administrators. The last Athletic Director that fired a head basketball coach lost their job shortly after their departure. I would have serious reservations about coaching at UNCW. Brad Brownell was a good coach who kept the program on the winning side of the ledger.Upon his departure , the program lost a lot of momentum. With nine games left in a horrible regular season, I would have let Benny Moss finish the season out. Politically, you can gather that something was in the works. I truly enjoy college athletics , but I have not been inspired to attend a UNCW basketball game in years. The baseball team plays quality ball with a good head coach. You see what they think of him by making him one of the lowest paid coaches , despite his consistency and success.There is not a big-time college atmosphere at UNCW because they lack the financial resources and commitment. I have been to a school that has big-time college athletics ,excitement and tremendous passion for it's athletic programs and it is worth the drive to Greenville ,N.C everytime.

"...despite his consistency

"...despite his consistency and success"

7-22, 20-13, 7-25 and 7-14. A 41-74 overall record. What consistency and success???

Moss and his embarrassment

I should think his record here would be what is truly embarrassing to Coach Moss.