University of Montana News

Mar 29, 2012 10:29 PM by Jill Valley (KPAX News)

UM shakeup explanation points to "change of leadership"

MISSOULA- University of Montana President Royce Engstrom took head football coach Robin Pflugrad and Athletic Director Jim O'Day into his office for a meeting Thursday morning at 7:45 and fired them both saying the school needed a 'change in leadership".

O' Day says the meeting was set up earlier this week and the dismissals took both of them completely by surprise.

"I know it was a hard decision for him (Engstrom) but I knew he'd been thinking about it for some time.

O' Day says that he doesn't know if it is at all tied to the sexual assault allegations. "You can jump to conclusions but the president wanted a change of leadership."

The athletic department has been criticized for its handing of allegations of sexual assault involving athletes. But Pflugrad said that during the meeting that topic never came up.

"Not one mention of sexual assault. Change of leadership, that was all that was mentioned," he told us during an interview.

Pflugrad spoke to us in his lawyer's office and said he's never been disciplined and had shaped his future based on at least another three years with UM. He also says he feels his staff was taking proactive steps in making sure his players stayed on track.

Pflugrad says that he hired an attorney to take a look at what happened Thursday. "I'm on a fact-finding mission. I owe it to my players, my family and ultimately myself."

Their terminations are effective immediately and neither knew Thursday was to be their last at UM doing the jobs they loved.

O'Day is keeping a positive outlook and looking at the future. "We'll end up back on our feet...I need to get away from Missoula for a while."

O'Day has served as Director of Athletics in Missoula since being appointed to the slot by then-UM President George Dennison in June of 2005.

Pflugrad finished his second season at Montana with an 11-3 record.

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