Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Coach Services

June 23, 1994 San Francisco Chronicle

Mike Marshall Fights for His Job - Former Dodger reliever will get grievance hearing after being fired at West Texas A&M
Thursday, June 23, 1994

They called him Iron Man when he stuck his bare hand out to catch a whizzing throw for the Montreal Expos more than two decades ago.

Mike Marshall still plays tough.

After West Texas A&M officials announced May 9 they would not renew his one-year contract as head baseball coach, Marshall demanded a grievance hearing.  He went to the media with a two-inch-thick binder of memos, evaluations and supportive letters.

Marshall -- veteran of 14 seasons in the major leagues, winner of the Cy Young Award, doctor of philosophy -- wants his job back.

"I think about those kids and how much this is going to hurt them," Marshall said of the Buffaloes, who finished 8-48 in their first year of NCAA competition since 1971.  "I also don't think it's a good lesson if I just walk away and don't stand up for my rights."

Marshall and 55 others applied for the head coaching vacancy that Athletic Director Mike Chandler hopes to fill by the end of June.

But before anyone is hired, Chandler said, Marshall will receive a grievance hearing.  That hearing has not been scheduled.

Like Marshall, Chandler has a hard time explaining what went wrong.

"I don't really know," he mused.  "A real problem in communication, between he and I.

Marshall brought lengthy credentials to the Texas Panhandle:  He became the first relief pitcher to win the Cy Young, going 15-12 with a 2.42 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974.  He had 21 saves while appearing in a record 106 games.

He had a career record of 97-112 with a 3.14 ERA and 188 saves while with Detroit, the Seattle Pilots, Houston, Montreal, Minnesota, Atlanta, Texas and the New York Mets.  Then, he consulted professionally and coached for seven years.

Still, Chandler said, "I don't think in this case those things matched with what we evidently needed in the position."

So Chandler announced that the WT baseball program needed new leadership.

Days later, as players and parents rallied to Marshall's side, WT President Barry Thompson issued a statement listing reasons the contract wasn't renewed:

1.  Insubordination.
2.  Failure to require players to comply with accepted standards of conduct.
3.  Lack of discipline.
4.  Lack of commitment to the university.
5.  Lack of "demonstrated knowledge of the fundamental skills of baseball based on the players' performance during the 1994 season."

"We have it all documented," Thompson said, declining to elaborate because of possible litigation.  "We'll just leave it as it is."

Marshall, 51, adamantly denies the university's allegations.

During a recent tour of the baseball stadium he and his players built last year, Marshall showed off the mound, the backstop, the maroon outfield wall.  He fretted about cracks in the dry soil.

"This is where I sit," he said, pointing to a little desk in one dugout.  "This is what I do."

And Marshall says he did it well at West Texas.

On a $30,000 salary and teaching nine semester course hours, Marshall recruited players and directed construction of the stadium.  He says the players improved drastically throughout the season, which they finished 2-18 in the Lone Star Conference.

Jeffrey Hughey said Marshall showed his son, Robert Hughey, how to throw 100 pitches in practice without getting sore.  "The guy is a tremendous coach.  He knows what he's talking about," the father said.

Marshall said he made it clear before being hired that he needed several years to build a program. School administrators understood, he said.  "It takes time for them (players) to pitch my style of game -- one year to get into shape and throw correctly, a second year to manage games."

But the contract specifies no "obligation on the employer to offer continued employment beyond the term herein contracted."

Marshall's non-renewal marked the 10th departure of a head coach at WT during Chandler's three years as athletic director.  "When I hire someone, I never expect that they're going to be around for just one year," Chandler said.  "I'm always hopeful that people will be here forever, if it works out."

Memos as far back as October reveal tension between Chandler and the coach over issues such as stadium construction and players' use of profanity.

And Chandler described a philosophical disagreement about the importance of winning:  The actual won-loss record wasn't as significant as Marshall's attitude about winning, Chandler said.  "Winning and losing means nothing to me," Marshall says.  "The only thing that matters was that they improve their skills."

He said Chandler knows little about baseball and has treated him with disrespect.  "Therein lies the problem.  Everybody thinks they know about coaching."


Regarding the article about your dismissal from West Texas A&M:

In one of your questions (from '03), you bluntly referred to the A.D., Mike Chandler, as a pedophile.  The lone item I could find on his departure was this brief note from the 5/12/95 Chronicle of Higher Education:

Athletics Director Quits After No-Contest Plea.

Mike Chandler announced his resignation as athletics director at West Texas A&M University after being caught peeking into the window of a football player's dormitory room.  He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and was fined $100.  He said in a written statement that he regretted any "misinterpretations of his behavior."


     If we add pathological liar, bigot, wife and children abuser and many other derogatory behaviors and we will be closer to what Mike Chandler was.

     The president of West Texas A&M University, Barry Thompson, fired me was because I took the fact that he regularly peeked into the men's showers in the athletic dormitory and other complaints against Mike Chandler to the president of West Texas A&M University.

     When, the next year, campus police caught Mike Chandler peeking into the men's showers in the athletic dormitory, neither the new president of West Texas A&M University who moved up from assistant president nor the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system telephoned me to apologize or ask me to come back.

     For his punishment, the new chancellor for the Texas A&M University system, Barry Thompson, hired Mike Chandler to work in his office in College Station.


Happy Pitching Everybody

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