By Tim Eberly
Kevin Emerick will likely never coach at Montana State University-Northern again.
Geoff Gamble, president of the MSU system, has rejected Emerick's administrative appeal and upheld MSU-N Chancellor Alex Capdeville's decision to suspend the women's basketball coach and not renew his one-year contract.
"Well, obviously we concur with his findings," Capdeville said today. "He pretty much focuses here on what the issues are. He doesn't get into the personalities of it."
Gamble read written statements from both parties before making his decision Thursday. On Friday, he drafted letters to Emerick and Capdeville, notifying them of his decision.
"I'm not happy that the whole situation unfolded," Gamble said Monday. "My hope is that (MSU-N) can kind of settle in and move ahead. I'm looking forward to things getting back on track for that campus."
Emerick did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Emerick could appeal Gamble's decision to Richard Crofts, the state commissioner of higher education.
Emerick offered a two-pronged appeal to Gamble. He asked Gamble to overturn Capdeville's decision not to renew his contract, which expires June 18. Second, Emerick argued that his suspension was without foundation and should also be overturned.
Since his first suspension Dec. 12, Emerick has argued that no one ever made a formal complaint against him.
Gamble sided with Capdeville on both arguments, and Emerick will remain suspended with pay until the expiration of his contract.
Gamble said Capdeville did not need a formal complaint against the second-year coach in order to suspend him. Capdeville suspended Emerick the same day he told the coach that his contract would not be renewed.
"Here the issue seemed to be that Chancellor Capdeville thought there was a possibility that Emerick would be a disruptive influence," Gamble said. "There was a danger at that time that they were going to lose some players, or potential recruits."
Capdeville's decision not to hire Emerick back next season did not violate Emerick's employee rights, Gamble said. Capdeville provided Emerick with "an adequate amount of time to seek employment," Gamble said.
Capdeville also met MSU-N's financial obligations to Emerick by suspending him with pay, Gamble said.
Capdeville suspended Emerick for maintaining a personal relationship with a student, 22-year-old Anna Fabatz, who was in Emerick's physical education class.
His removal followed an investigation sparked by allegations Emerick made in a mass e-mail he sent to MSU-N faculty and staffers in October, in which he accused a former recruiter of sexual misconduct toward Fabatz. MSU ended up issuing two separate investigative reports, one involving the allegations and one regarding Emerick's relationship with Fabatz.
Emerick sued to regain his job after his initial suspension, and a district judge reinstated him in early January, ordering MSU to allow Emerick to go through a university appeal.
Emerick was suspended again after the Montana Supreme Court allowed MSU-N to remove him while his court case against the university was pending. That decision came a week after Emerick's players signed a petition for his removal and refused to play for him on the grounds of verbal and psychological abuse.
Under interim head coach Mike Erickson, the Skylights (20-11) concluded their season Friday with a 78-62 loss to the University of Montana-Western in the Frontier Conference semifinals.