Rex Ecarma, a UofL lifer for 29 years-plus, shown the door

Rex Ecarma

Sorry to see Rex Ecarma released from his job as head tennis coach at the University of Louisville. Officially being terminated August 28th. No second chance. Just bye-bye.

The dismissal followed reports of perceived racial slights and harsh demands, coming from members of some recent teams. Not surprising that a coach would be the object of such charges in a society in which such accusations are all too frequent.

Perceived is the key word here, often in the eye of the beholder. Reality may or may not be what a small minority says it is these days. Just accusing someone of racism is enough to shade another, often damaging individuals without any fear of recrimination or reprisal.

The University conducted a three-month investigation in which 21 people around the program were interviewed, including Louisville compliance director John Carns, seasonal athletic trainer Aurelio Puga and tennis players. Apparently few players or trainers from previous teams were contacted.

“I’m deeply disappointed by the decision,” Ecarma wrote. “I’ve been a Louisville Cardinal my entire entire adult life, as a ball boy, player, and for nearly 30 years as the Head Coach. My teams have been successful and my record, including my personnel file, has been spotless.”

What’s ironic about Ecarma’s situation is that he is represented by Marc Murphy, an attorney at Stites & Harbison. Murphy is better known for his viperous cartoons in the Courier-Journal.

The accusatory tone of Murphy’s drawings seemingly designed to maliciously stir the pot of racial and anti-religion passions.  The odds of Rex Ecarma getting a second chance were probably never very good with Murphy as his legal adviser.

Must have been doing something right for 29 years. His longevity second only to Denny Crum’s 30 years for UofL head coaches. John Heldman was baseball coach for 26 years and Frank Camp was football coach for 22 years.

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An interesting couple of hours on the Drew Deaner Show on ESPN-680 on Tuesday morning with numerous players from previous teams coming to Ecarma’s defense. None of them having anything bad to say about their former coach.

The concensus from former players, friends and associates was that they were upset at the treatment of the coach. All of them agreeing that they didn’t recognize Ecarma as an individual described in the accusations.

Even Billy Reed, a lifelong liberal, was critical of the soft mentality of today’s athletes, and the “country club mentality” of tennis players, in particular.

“I am totally impressed with the total support of Rex by his former players and people who have worked with him,” said Reed, adding that it made him wonder what was else was going on within the program … or with Ecarma’s assistants.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

7 thoughts on “Rex Ecarma, a UofL lifer for 29 years-plus, shown the door”

  1. This does not make sense.A man dedicates 29 years of his life to a school and then is dismissed from his job without getting a warning or a second chance.We also honor his contract and pay him $150,000 a year until 2023.Something is missing in this situation.

    1. Bill, I think the atmosphere was so poisoned that Tyra believed he had no choice but to let Ecarma go. The investigatory committee kept at it until it was able to compile a one-sided report.

  2. So let me get this straight. Now, “perceived racial slights” can get you fired from a 30 year job? We really are screwed as a society.

  3. Perhaps Ecarma would do better next time to hire an attorney that practices law and not draws cartoons?

  4. It is sad when you fire a coach for perceived offenses. All the “politically correct ” actions of today have created an atmosphere of cry baby tactics in my humble opinion, not only in sports, but also at the corporate level.

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