Point Park Globe

Track and field head coach terminated last Friday

Former+head+coach+of+the+track+and+field+and+cross+country+teams%2C+Kelly+Parsley%2C+stands+on+the+sidelines+during+a+meet+earlier+this+season.+Parsley+was+named+Coach+of+the+Year+ten+times+total+throughout+his+tenure+with+the+teams+before+his+termination+on+Friday.
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Track and field head coach terminated last Friday

Former head coach of the track and field and cross country teams, Kelly Parsley, stands on the sidelines during a meet earlier this season. Parsley was named Coach of the Year ten times total throughout his tenure with the teams before his termination on Friday.

Former head coach of the track and field and cross country teams, Kelly Parsley, stands on the sidelines during a meet earlier this season. Parsley was named Coach of the Year ten times total throughout his tenure with the teams before his termination on Friday.

Photo by Robert Berger

Former head coach of the track and field and cross country teams, Kelly Parsley, stands on the sidelines during a meet earlier this season. Parsley was named Coach of the Year ten times total throughout his tenure with the teams before his termination on Friday.

Photo by Robert Berger

Photo by Robert Berger

Former head coach of the track and field and cross country teams, Kelly Parsley, stands on the sidelines during a meet earlier this season. Parsley was named Coach of the Year ten times total throughout his tenure with the teams before his termination on Friday.

Written By Allison Schubert, Co-Sports Editor

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Kelly Parsley, head coach of the track and field teams for the past five years and head coach of the cross country team for the past four, was relieved of his position at the university on Friday morning.

The termination came after Parsley received his ninth and tenth recognitions as River States Conference (RSC) Coach of the Year for both the women’s and men’s teams in the indoor season.

Prior to his time at Point Park, Parsley coached at various levels, including the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, and high school. Before beginning the program with the Pioneers, he also had a hand in starting programs at NAIA Lindenwood University-Belleville in Missouri and Goldey Beacom College in Delaware.

Parsley came to Point Park in January 2014 as the first head coach of the track and field program. He added cross country to his resume the following year, leading the team to the conference championship in his first season as head coach.

One anonymous source told The Globe that an investigation was launched following a mental health incident in which Parsley did not take the proper actions.

Point Park released a statement on Monday evening, attributing the sudden relief of Parsley to a simple coaching change.

“Point Park University is announcing a coaching change for track and field and cross country,” the statement said. “Jim Spisak will immediately serve as the interim head coach of both track and field and cross country, replacing Kelly Parsley, who was head coach of track and field for the last five years and cross country the last four years.  Coach Spisak is in his first year on the Point Park coach staffing for cross country and track and field.”

The Globe reached out to former coach Parsley, but he did not return multiple requests for comment on the issue.

According to senior Eric Torres, a former athlete of Parsley’s, an initial complaint against Parsley was filed in mid-October.

“We had our share of arguments throughout my time on the team for three years,” Torres said in an interview on Monday night. “After this last incident though, I had to take action. Enough of my teammates and friends had accusations against Parsley before, but no one ever acted on it.”

Torres explained that it was a personal discrepancy between them and Parsley, and that they felt secluded being a member of the team with him as the coach.

Other athletes, like senior Anna Shields, took to Facebook following the news being broken to the athletes on Friday to defend Parsley.

“Coach Parsley built this team and I think it’s sad he won’t get the chance to see the team finish out the year,” Shields said. “Many of my teammates and I are informing the athletic department and the school administration that Coach Parsley gave us a wonderful experience in track and cross country. He supported us not only as just athletes, but as students and as people.”

Dennis McDermott, United Student Government (USG) senator and athlete on the track and field team, ensured that he and USG were pushing for all coaches to be better equipped for dealing with mental health issues in the future, regardless of the reasons for Parsley’s termination.

Spisak has already stepped into his role as interim head coach, taking a reduced Point Park team to Kent State to compete in the final meet of the season before nationals, which will be held from Feb. 28 to March 2 in Brookings, South Dakota.

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