MSU unveils violations, Stokes resigns

Sports

SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Hall of Famer Melissa Stokes resigned Monday as head coach of the Missouri State volleyball team following a month long investigation into the program.

The investigation uncovered three violations and when presented with the findings, Stokes resigned.

Two of the violations happened this summer.

At the end of May, an unnamed recruit accompanied the team to Europe for free.

The Bears played exhibition in five cities including Rome and Paris.

Also in July current members of the team were serving as coaches during summer camp and took part in illegal scrimmages.

In addition to those two violations, in 2015 and in 2017 members of the team got free or reduced rent while living in houses that coach Stokes managed.

When Missouri State got wind of this, they hired a third party investigation firm.

And then self-reported the findings to the NCAA.

“Even though coach Stokes has been at the University for a long time, has had a tremendous amount of success. That we took this really seriously. And there was going to be an objective process. And we’re not going to not cover anything up. Or white wash anything,” said MSU Chief Compliance Officer Rachael Dockery.

Melissa Stokes had coached the Bears for 23 years.

She has won 509 matches, is the winningest coach in Valley history, and took the Bears to ten NCAA tournaments and is a 2017 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

Stokes had four years left on her current contract worth $464,000 dollars.

She settled with Missouri State for $80,000 dollars and turned in her resignation.

“We’re going to do the right thing. I don’t care how many games you’ve won. Or how long you’ve been here. We’re going to do things the right way. If we don’t do things the right way, we don’t want to do it that way. That’s now how we are,” said MSU Athletics Director Kyle Moats.

In a written statement, Stokes said “For the last 23 years the Missouri State volleyball program has been a top priority. I have always wanted what is best for the student athletes and the University.”

Despite the fact that current players took part in or knew about the violations, the University does not expect any of them to be punished by the NCAA.

However the NCAA has not announced its sanctions if any yet.

Moats:”I think as Rachael said, it’ll be instituional control with the head coach. It’s ultimately her responsibility.”

All the current players are staying with the Bears.

The one recruit that went to Europe is not on the team.

Associate Head Coach Manolo Concepcion will take over the program on an interim basis.

Then Missouri State will open the search nationwide when the 2019 campaign is over.

This is the first time that the Bears Volleyball team has violated NCAA rules.

It’s been one of the top programs in the Valley and in the country.

It has now been tarnished.

Moats:”I dont’ know what she thought. Certainly there are rules. And those rules are pretty basic. Poor decision making is what I’d call it.”

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