This can not be a good sign for the long term direction of the programs.
Well, you saw the headline, let’s just go to the Marquette press release, shall we?
Steve Rodecap, who has worked with both the men’s and women’s tennis programs at Marquette for the last 20 years, is leaving the University, Vice President and Director of Athletics Bill Scholl announced Wednesday morning.
Rodecap served as head coach of the men’s team for each of the past 20 seasons and prior to the 2019-20 campaign was promoted to Director of Tennis, working as the head coach for both the men’s and women’s programs. He is departing for a position within athletics administration at Emporia State University and current men’s assistant coach Jud Shaufler will serve as the interim director of tennis.
Okay, so let’s just ignore the timing of this where Marquette’s head coach for men’s and women’s tennis has resigned on August 16th, 12 days before the 2023-24 school year starts and about a month before the tennis teams take to the court for the first time. That’s just bad luck more than anything else, and the timing of Rodecap’s new job at Emporia State is more responsible for that than anything else.
My curiosity and general sense of doom regarding Rodecap’s decision to leave Marquette after 20 years is more about the overall state of the men’s and women’s tennis programs. God bless Rodecap if he wanted to get out of coaching altogether, or if he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity, or whatever other combination of personal reasons might have contributed to his career decision. However, we can’t just ignore the fact that back in January of this year, we learned, thanks to reporting from the Marquette Wire, that men’s and women’s tennis will not be supported by athletic scholarships after the 2024-25 school year. More importantly to the point here, athletic director Bill Scholl told the Wire that Rodecap had been made aware of this budgetary decision “close to two years ago,” meaning back in early 2021.
If Rodecap just wanted to make a change for 100% personal reasons, then that’s great for him and it is what it is for Marquette tennis.
If part of Rodecap’s decision to leave Marquette was propelled by the knowledge that he would have to be recruiting athletes to his programs while telling them that they were going to have to pay full tuition to play tennis for him…. well, that’s not great, is it?
More importantly to the future of the tennis teams: If a guy who has been involved in college tennis for more than 20 years found the new state of his programs to be an untenable situation going forward…… who’s going to want to take the job?
Maybe it’s not that big of a deal. As we talked about in January when the scholarship news broke, the Blue & Gold Fund wasn’t able to provide scholarship funds for all of the scholarships that the NCAA allows Marquette to fund. Maybe men’s and women’s tennis was already on the short end of the funding stick, and losing scholarship money altogether wasn’t that much of a change for Rodecap. Maybe this is all for personal reasons on his side of the decision and it has nothing to do with the budgetary issues at Marquette.
But if it’s not…. well, let’s keep an eye on what’s going on with the teams in the not-distant future, shall we?