MISSOULA – Surprising developments at the University of Montana have led to an investigation, a statement from the president, the discovery of texts to a Las Vegas escort service, and the firing of the head coach of one of the Grizzlies’ most successful programs.
Details emerged Thursday night showing UM did not renew the contract of Mark Plakorus due to improper texts, contradicting the school’s original release on Tuesday claiming the soccer coach had resigned for personal reasons.
President Seth Bodnar issued a release Friday stating that when concerns were raised, the university conducted an investigation. And the results of what they found led to the dismissal of Plakorus.
UM athletic director Kent Haslam told multiple media outlets that Griz soccer players issued complaints about Plakorus texting them too frequently and at inappropriate times, so Montana started an investigation into Plakorus’ texting habits and found he had contacted a number traced to an escort service multiple times. Bodnar stated that at that time the university exercised its right to not renew his contract.
Plakorus had a very successful seven years with the Grizzlies, putting them in contention for a Big Sky Conference title nearly every year. Assistant Katie Benz is overseeing the program now until a new head coach takes over.
President Bodnar’s statement:
“The University’s first priority in our athletic programs is the success and support of our student athletes. In this case, when concerns were raised, the university initiated a careful process with qualified professionals to examine the situation thoroughly. In early November, when athletic department leadership became aware of the concerns, the process began. The news of this week, the fact that we are seeking a new leadership direction in the soccer program, is the result of that process. To be clear, the university exercised its right, pursuant to the terms in the 1-year coaching contract, to non-renew this employee. We are committed to our first priority, our students, and will make sure we move forward in a manner that is supportive, transparent, and inclusive to serve the program’s needs.”