AD fires long-time tennis coach, states NCAA violation
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 14:10
by Mark Hopkins
Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes announced the termination of Christian Wright from his position as men’s and women’s tennis head coach Tuesday.
Barnes named “repeated NCAA violations” as motives for the decision in a phone call with The Utah Statesman.
“We moved as soon as we found out about them and we moved towards the resolution,” Barnes said of the violations. He declined further comment.
The move came as Wright was beginning his 22nd season at Utah State. Since joining the Aggies in 1992, he has served as the men’s and women’s head tennis coach. Both teams will continue play this week under current assistant coach Bryan Marchant and former assistant coach Lukas Bouton.
“We’ve named two interim coaches and we’ll conduct a national search in the spring,” Barnes said.
Wright, originally from St. George, Utah, has been a prominent tennis figure in Cache Valley, running summer youth camps and other tennis functions throughout Northern Utah. His interim replacements, Marchant and Bouton, are both former Aggies who played under Wright. Bouton is currently the tennis director and head pro at the Sports Academy and Racquet Club in Logan.
Though the Athletics Department did not release further details on the alleged NCAA violations, former Utah State women’s tennis player Kimi Watts said the violations relate to recruiting policies.
“He had been teaching private lessons to high school students,” Watts said. “They considered that prospective recruits, even though he never taught anyone from Logan that he recruited.”
Marchant said Aggie players and their parents are “outraged” over the termination.
“What it is over is ridiculous, not really a violation,” Marchant said. “Pretty much every college coach in the nation does it. A stupid little thing.”
Wright confirmed allegations that he had been terminated for giving such tennis lessons, but denied further comment.
Watts, who has been in contact with the Wright family since she transferred schools before her junior season at Utah State, said she heard the news Monday from Wright’s wife.
“All through my years playing for Utah State and my older sister’s years, Christian never did anything remotely unethical,” Watts said. “He was nothing but a positive influence for the program and the players.”
The coaching change comes in the midst of one of their most successful fall seasons in recent history.
Senior Sven Poslusny is 3-0 in tournament play for the men, while sophomore McKenzie Davis is ranked 18th in singles and 10th in doubles with senior partner Jaci West for the women in the Intermountain Tennis Association Mountain Region.
Marchant will take the women’s team to play Wednesday at the ITA Mountain Region Championships in Las Vegas, Nev., through Saturday to end the fall season.
Bouton will travel Salt Lake City, Utah, with the men’s team to compete in the University of Utah Intercollegiates tournament Thursday through Sunday before the ITA Mountain Region Championships on Oct. 17-21.
Collegiate play for both the men’s and women’s teams will resume in January.