Jody Adams-Birch, Wichita State agree to part ways


Hannah Roberts

Head coach, Jody Adams-Birch, yells at the referee about a perceived missed call Sunday afternoon. The game marked the beginning of Adams-Birch’s ninth season coaching the Wichita State women’s basketball team.

Wichita State and women’s basketball coach Jody Adams-Birch have mutually agreed to part ways, Director of Athletics Darron Boatright announced on Sunday.

Adams-Birch was suspended for WSU’s two weekend games while Boatright investigated information regarding the ninth-year head coach and the women’s basketball program that was brought to his attention on Thursday.

“I would like to thank coach Kirk Crawford for his leadership during the weekend, and for his willingness to serve as head coach for the last two games,” Boatright said in a statement.

Linda Hargrove will step in as the new women’s head coach and serve for the remaining of the 2016-17 basketball season. Hargrove served as WSU’s head coach from 1989-98 , where she coached the Shockers to five winning seasons.

Assistant coaches Kirk Crawford, Bridgette Gordon, Kaci Bailey, and Director of Basketball Operations Michael Gomez will serve through the end of their contracts. Boatright will begin a national search for a successor in the near future.

Adams-Birch composed a 161-115 record while at WSU, leading the Shockers to three straight Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles in 2013-15. WSU would also make its first of three NCAA Tournament appearances starting in 2013.

Adams-Birch, who is WSU’s career-wins leader, received raises in each of the last two seasons. In 2015 she earned a salary of $309,183, the third highest paid salary at Wichita State behind Executive Director of NIAR John Tomblin and University President John Bardo.

After a 29-win season in 2015, four players quit the team. An investigation was started up, where 38 people involved with the program were interviewed regarding the atmosphere of the program, with Adams-Birch receiving complaints about the mistreatment of players.

The investigation was followed with Adams-Birch agreeing to make changes with the programs and allow players and coaches to work with a consultant in sports psychology.

According to sources first reported by The Wichita Eagle, the investigation started when sophomore Ellie Lehne decided to transfer from WSU on Tuesday. Lehne was the second player to transfer from the team during the season, with Jyar Francis leaving from the team on Dec. 8.

The sources said that after other players from the team discussed the overall atmosphere with Boatright, the players boycotted practice.

Boatright and Hargrove will hold a news conference on Monday.