The University of Montana chose not to renew the contract for head women’s soccer coach Mark Plakorus after finding texts on his phone to a number “affiliated with escort services” in Las Vegas. Athletic Director Kent Haslam initially explained to 406mtsports only that it was “mutually agreed it was time for [Plakorus] to move on.”
Haslam told the Independent today that a “team culture survey” conducted last semester by the university’s Title IX office revealed several team members’ concerns regarding “excessive texting or texting at odd hours between coach and player.”
“Jean [Gee, Senior Associate AD] looked into that — we do keep text records,” Haslam said. “It was during that time … that she noticed texts to 702 numbers in Vegas.”
Haslam noted that while some of the calls coincided with recruiting trips to Las Vegas, none of the calls were placed during competition weekends in Las Vegas.
On Tuesday, the university announced that Plakorus has unexpectedly resigned from his position. Plakorus was present at team practice Monday, but assistant coach Katie Benz ran the practice.
“Coaches in particular are in a position of representing the university, and that needs to be taken seriously,” said Haslam. “That’s really where the decision came from.”
“Certainly those conversations are not pleasant," Haslam continued. "I want to emphasize this is all circumstantial. We don’t have the bodies of the texts, we just know texts were exchanged. He had his explanation, but we just felt like, provided with the information we had, it was best not to renew the contract.”
Haslam also emphasized that the survey and the firing are not directly linked. “The reason for the nonrenewal was the discovery of the texts,” Haslam said.
Plakorus could not be immediately reached for comment.
-- update --
This article was updated at 6:22 pm on Feb. 1 to include additional quotes from Kent Haslam.