Director of Athletics Julie Kline announced on Nov. 24 that head football coach Andy Ankeny and head volleyball coach Marlon Sano had been relieved of their duties.
A national search to fill the vacant positions will begin in the coming weeks.
Ankeny, who was hired prior to the 2007 season, finished with a 4-32 record during his four year coaching stint with the Leopards.
His team finished 1-8 in his opening season at La Verne. Ankeny finished with a 2-7 mark in 2008 and then had a winless campaign in 2009.
The Leopards went 1-8 this season, ending the year with a 49-23 victory at Whittier.
“We are grateful for Coach Ankeny’s contributions over the past four seasons, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” Kline said.
“We recognize there were positive developments made with the football program during the last four years, both from an academic and athletic perspective,” she added.
Assistant football coach Brent Baier will now oversee many of the day-to-day operations of the Leopard football program until a new head coach is named.
“Coach Baier is a good coach and I think he has what it takes to improve this program,” sophomore running back Sam Rhone said.
“I do hope that the team will become better next season,” sophomore starting running back Erek Brown said.
“I feel that the program did need a change. I wasn’t surprised, but I hate to see somebody lose their job of four years,” Brown added.
Like Brown, many players and fans were not surprised by the change at the head coaching position.
It was rumored that Ankeny had to win at least three games in the 2010 season to keep his job.
“When you go 4-32 over four years, it’s hard to keep him on staff,” sophomore tight end Dakota Bates said. “But at the same time, he was the guy that recruited me so it’s going to be hard to see him go.”
“I think we all wanted this change. Nobody seemed to be against it,” said a player who asked to remain anonymous because of fear of ridicule from teammates.
The announcement about Sano, on the other hand, was more of a surprize to the community. Sano seemed to be somewhat successful as he led the Leopards to a 19-11 record this year and a 23-14 season last year. Although he had a decent record, it was hard to match the level of play from teams in the past. In 2008 the woman’s volleyball team finished with a 27-3 record and a trip to the NCAA championship where they fell to Emory. And in 2007 they finished with a 27-7 record.
“It is our intent to identify the best candidate pool from across the nation from which to select the next head coach to lead our volleyball program toward the future,” said Kline.
Woman’s volleyball has been known to always come up with strong teams winning three national titles in 1981, 1982, 2001 and producing 27 All-America selections.
The Leopard had won a total of 22 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, including nine consecutive league titles from 2000 to 2008.
Both teams are looking forward to improving, following seasons that didn’t end the way they intended.
Justin Davis-Battle can be reached at email@example.com.