Hank Smith is no longer the men’s basketball coach at Emerson after over a decade and a half of service, according to a statement released by the College.
“After 16 seasons as Emerson’s basketball coach, Hank Smith has decided to leave the College to pursue other interests,” the statement, released on the Athletics Department website said. “A national search for his replacement will begin immediately.”
But controversy arose about the move after the Beacon spoke six basketball players, who said Stan Nance, the associate director of athletics, provided the team with a different explanation of why Smith is no longer the head coach.
“Stan just called everyone in the locker room and said ‘People higher up in the school are looking to go in a different direction,'” junior Carlos Negrete said. “We were all shocked. None of us expected this.”
Nance referred all questions to Athletic Director Kristin Parnell.
Parnell declined to comment and referred all inquiries to Andrew Tiedemann, the vice president for communications and marketing.
Tiedemann said he could not comment on the matter other to refer to the statement released on the athletics website. He added that his office had nothing to do with the move, and that all coaching personnel decisions are typically handled within the athletics department.
The players said they saw Smith in the training room before practice.
“I was just about to go talk to him when Stan came in and told coach that Kristin (Parnell) needed to speak with him,” Eric Helfman, a junior basketball player said. “Then Stan told us to go down to the locker room.”
Multiple players, including Negrete, said when they asked to see coach, Nance told the players he had already left the building. Players said they tried to reach out to the coach via phone calls and text messages, but that he was not responding.
Smith could not be reached for comment.
“I don’t get it,” senior Kabir Moss said. “It’s just mind-blowing.”