Caught off guard by the sudden departure of his signature hire as Newman’s athletic director, Vic Trilli spent most of Thursday trying to plan for the increasingly uncertain future of his women’s basketball program.
Jaime Green’s two-year tenure as women’s basketball coach at Newman came to an end Wednesday when she told Trilli and Newman president Noreen Carocci that she was leaving to take a job as an assistant at Missouri Southern, another NCAA Division II team – one that tied for last place in the MIAA last season with a 4-16 conference record. Green also played for Missouri Southern under current coach Maryann Mitts.
Green went 42-14 in two seasons with the Jets, winning two Heartland Conference titles and leading Newman to its first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance this season.
Green’s tenure at Newman was also marked by an infraction reported to the NCAA where Green asked a player to pay for two Division I transfers’ parking fines at their schools because, the player said, Green paying for the fines would be a violation of NCAA rules.
Green admitted to the violation and served a one-game suspension in December. The program also self-imposed a penalty of a loss of two book scholarships and a reduction to eight recruiting visits. The NCAA has yet to formally rule on the violations.
“She came to the office and she struggled visibly … but she told us that she was going back to her alma mater, to work with the coach who recruited her,” Trilli said. “I really was a little bit surprised, to tell the truth. It caught me off guard.
“I sure wasn’t anticipating going to have to go looking for a coach.”
Green would only communicate via text on Thursday, but did respond to several questions – specifically if her problems with the NCAA played any role in her departure, to which she replied: “Absolutely not!”
“I am returning home to my alma mater. I have the opportunity to learn from (my) mentor and be less than an hour away from my family in Arkansas,” Green texted. “Moving from a head coaching position in the Heartland to an assistant coach in the MIAA is not a step backwards or a lateral move, but in my opinion, a step forward. The MIAA is the best (Division II) conference in the nation and the fact that it is my alma mater and so close to my family was a no-brainer.”
Green told Trilli last week that she was looking into leaving.
“Vic and I are both very similar so we both processed what was best both for my family and for my career and we felt that it is a once in a lifetime chance to your alma mater win a title,” Green texted. “And so that is where we both came to an agreement that this timing was both special and unique.”
Mitts did not return e-mails or voice mails seeking comment, but Missouri Southern athletic director Jared Bruggeman said the school didn’t hesitate to hire Green.
“Did we have reservations? No. Did we talk about it? Certainly.” Bruggeman said. “We talked about all of these things with her … she’s a heck of a coach, a Missouri Southern alum … she was always interested in coming back here, it’s not like we’re recruiting coaches from other schools.”
Whoever Trilli hires to replace Green will have their work cut out for them, recruiting-wise, between now and the beginning of next school year.
The Jets lose seven seniors, including All-American Satoria Bell, off of what was an 11-player roster by the end of the year.
“I think our program is further along now than when I started,” Trilli said. “And I wish I had some answers about which way we’re going, but I just don’t.”