Chapman University head baseball coach Tom Tereschuk was placed on leave March 28 when the university started to investigate allegations that he had violated university policy.
Tereschuk has coached at Chapman for 11 years and led the team to a Division III national title. He is highly regarded by his former and current players and their parents, almost all of whom allege Tereschuk is the victim of a politically correct culture gone amok.
Doug Aiken, Chapman’s sports information director, said the school’s human resources department is continuing with the investigation.
“The investigation is ongoing and until it is resolved, [Tereschuk] will not be teaching on campus or traveling with the baseball team,” Aiken said. “An administrative leave can happen for a number of combinations, but it’s a serious situation regardless.”
Even though Tereschuk has not been accused of even laying a hand on any of his players, let alone saying anything that could be derogatory, the Panther, the school’s newspaper, compared him to recently fired Rutgers basketball head coach Mike Rice, who was relieved of his duties after a video came to light that showed him slurring and berating players while hurling basketballs at them during practice.
The article also relied on one on-the-record interview from a player who played for Tereschuk for only one season.
Michael Newman, a utility player who left the baseball team in 2010 as a senior at the school, alleged in the article that the coach “screamed and cussed at me on the field and called me useless”
“If a player messed up, he would belittle them until he got it all out of his system,” Newman said. “If he was caught doing what he did, he would have been fired a long time ago.”
Another player, who refused to go on the record, merely confirmed that a college baseball coach did indeed use profanity.
After those who supported Tereschuk created a Facebook page titled “we stand behind coach T,” Newman, the former ballplayer who made critical comments about Tereschuk in the article, immediately retracted some of his comments, claiming the reporter misrepresented his statements.
He wrote he was “misrepresented in my interview regarding Coach Tom Tereschuk” and has “not been a part of the Chapman baseball program since the fall of 2010.” He said he was not against Tereschuk in the ongoing investigation.
“I played one year under Coach T and never was I a victim or had felt victimized by Coach T,” Newman wrote on the Facebook page. “The quotes in the article portray me as slandering him as a coach and my feeling towards the situation could not be more contradictory.”
Newman said that he “repeatedly” maintained during the interview with the reporter that he did not believe Tereschuk was “abusive” and was rather “instilling a sense of accountability and motivation in his players including myself.”
“The allegations do not reflect my feelings and attitude towards Coach T,” he continued in his Facebook comment. “He is an incredible coach and has been fostering ballplayers and men of integrity and high moral conduct for over 30 years in Orange County. It is my hope that he will continue to coach and teach at Chapman University.”
According to the Panther, Associate head coach Dave Edwards is the interim coach and substitute professors are teaching Tereschuk’s three classes.
On the Facebook page, Matt Gomez wrote that it was irresponsible for the article in question to “tie this narrative to that of the Rutgers scandal” and criticized the reporter’s “horrific use of sources” to put out a one-sided and biased report. He expressed how “grateful” he was that Tereschuk impacted his life in a positive way
Malia Holmes, who had been an athletic trainer at Villa Park High School while Tereschuk coached there before coming to Chapman, wrote that she never felt “Coach T ever did anything but try to get the best out of his athletes.”
“He would give any of the kids the shirt off his back,” she wrote, noting how Tereschuk also taught his players “about life, respect and competition.”
Holmes said she attended most football practices and games at Villa Park and never saw Tereschuk do anything that would cause her to think “negative thoughts about him” and noted how Tereschuk never questioned her when she suggested an athlete was not healthy enough to play.
Scott Zine wrote that he felt it was “pretty sad” how one “soft, entitled, alleged college baseball player and his family try and ruin a man who has devoted his life and entire being not only to this game but more importantly the ones who played it for him.”
“We all know who Tommy T really is, what he stands for and how he has affected our lives individually,” Zine wrote. “No decision by an administration will ever change that.”