IUP BASKETBALL: Hawks moving on with 'new vision' after Dow dismissal
A week after cutting ties with former women’s basketball coach Jeff Dow, officials at Indiana University of Pennsylvania are still in the process of implementing a new vision for the program.
Just what that vision is, officials aren’t saying yet.
But one thing is for sure: Dow isn’t a part of it.
Dow was informed on April 15 his contract was not being renewed.
His last day on the job was Wednesday, and he received a letter Thursday from Rhonda Luckey, IUP vice president for student relations, which stated that Dow was released “based on the university’s vision for the women’s basketball program and the need for new coaching leadership to develop and implement that vision.”
Luckey could not be reached for comment at her office Monday, and requests seeking comment were referred to IUP spokeswoman Michelle Fryling.
“I know that vision is still under development,” Fryling said.
Frank Condino, IUP’s director of athletics, said Sunday the coaching search hasn’t started yet. Condino did not return a phone call Monday seeking further comment.
IUP sports information director Ryan Rebholz said the search committee is being formed this week, and although a specific target date isn’t set, officials would like to get the search started either later this week or early next week.
“They don’t want to wait too long, but they want to do it right, too,” Rebholz said.
With national signing day having come and gone last week, the program is in jeopardy of losing players who verbally committed to IUP.
One of those is local standout and recently named All-Gazette Player of the Year, Mackenzie Livingston, a senior at Blairsville.
Livingston knew she wanted to play basketball for IUP. So, when the Crimson Hawks came calling, the Blairsville standout was all in.
But, like a lot of things in the IUP women’s basketball program now, Livingston’s plans are up in the air.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” the 5-foot-7 guard/forward said. “I had already bought a room. My friend and I already had a room there. I already scheduled orientation. I already had everything all set up. It’s a pretty big turnaround here.”
There’s a chance Livingston could still suit up for the Crimson Hawks, but instead of signing on, she is keeping her options open. She visited Lock Haven on Thursday and received interest from Lindenwood-Belleville, an NAIA program in Illinois.
She is hoping maybe a few more windows of opportunity open up in the next couple weeks, after she closed a few, herself, when originally choosing IUP.
“I could’ve gone to West Chester, but as soon as IUP called, I was like, I’m going there,” she said. “I kind of just let them go. UPJ I was talking to for a while. … I had everything all set up, so I stopped talking to everyone else, and then this all happened. Luckily, Lock Haven called me again.”
It’s a tight spot this late in the recruiting process. Many schools have filled the openings in their rosters and allocated their scholarship money. IUP could still have some for Livingston. That’s one of several things that will be sorted out over the next couple weeks. She hopes to make a decision by the end of the month.
“It’s just really stressful now,” Livingston said, “because I was already supposed to be signing. To rethink everything and keep visiting just wasn’t a good time. I’m looking at other schools, so maybe they can offer me something better, hopefully. It’s hard.”
In other developments, Dow said he is learning more details about an anonymous letter that was supposedly sent by the entire team to Pittsburgh media outlets the day of his firing.
It’s becoming evident, Dow said, that the entire team was not in on the letter.
Dow said multiple players have reached out to him to inform him they took no part in drafting the letter.
In the letter, which was delivered to multiple Pittsburgh media outlets but not The Indiana Gazette, several allegations are made against Dow and his treatment of players, according to a published report.
The typed letter was signed “IUP Women’s Basketball Team.”
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that multiple players and parents didn’t have anything to do with this anonymous letter, although the anonymous letter apparently was signed with a typed signature at the bottom of the letter that indicated that it was the ‘IUP women’s basketball team,’” Dow said.
“The letter is not reflective of the team as a whole and could very well be the effort of one or two people, and that could very well be it. It could very well be one parent and their daughter. It seems that there are people out there now that are clearly hiding behind their anonymity.”
One of the allegations is that Dow slapped sophomore transfer Lindsay Stamp during a practice.
Stamp has confirmed to the Gazette that’s a fictitious charge.
Hours after her family decided not to comment on the situation Sunday, Stamp had a change of heart later in the day and reached out to the Gazette and offered the following: “I am not going to elaborate too much about this situation, but I am willing to say that Coach Dow did not slap me in the face during practice. I am not sure where that statement came from, but it is not true.”
Gazette sports writer Eli Nellis contributed to this report.