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.

Louisville’s Austen Childs, Well Done

Give it up for Austen Childs, the University of Louisville tennis player who made to the national championship final in NCAA Tournament singles competition.

The U of L junior, who hails from New Zealand, was defeated 6-1 and 6-2 by Stanford’s Bradley Klahn in Monday’s title match.

Childs entered the tournament unseeded as the 19th-ranked player in the nation. After snapping a nine-match win streak with a loss to Tennessee’s top-ranked John-Patrick Smith in Louisville’s round-of-16 loss in the team championship, Childs opened the singles competition with five consecutive wins.

En route to his runner-up finish, he upset four higher-ranked opponents and avenged four prior losses along the way – including a first-round victory over Smith.

He returns for yet another season next year.

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Congratulations to Rex Ecarma and the University of Louisville tennis team, making it to the NCAA’s sweet sixteen with a 4-1 win over Virginia Tech.

Rex Ecarma

Ecarma’s enthusiasm is contagious, tempting even the most ambivalent observer to consider taking in the sport. He encourages fans to make noise, and a lot of it, during tennis matches. “This is not a wine and cheese tasting deal,” he says.

Unfortunately, there are probably no more home matches this season.

His 15th ranked team, which has compiled a 24-5 record, will be pitted against No. 2 Tennessee (28-1) in competition starting at 3 p.m. Friday at Athens, Ga.

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