Coach let go after investigation reveals texts to escort services

New details are emerging as to why Griz soccer head coach Mark Plakorus' contract was not renewed this week.

University of Montana Athletic Director Kent Haslam said in a phone interview Thursday that the university decided not to renew the contract of Griz soccer head coach Mark Plakorus after an investigation into his cellphone records revealed that he had texted escort services during a recruiting trip in Las Vegas.

The investigation began at the conclusion of the Montana soccer season, when several players expressed concerns about the program.

"At that time we brought in the Title IX office (Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action) to help assess the culture of the program," said Haslam.

During that time multiple players said they felt Plakorus was texting them excessively and at inappropriate times.

"As soon as we were notified of these concerns by the players we proceeded to dig deeper," he said.

That prompted a look into Plakorus' phone records, at which time they found several text messages had been sent to an escort service in Las Vegas. Those texts were sent during recruiting trips funded by the university.

"We did not ever see the text messages themselves," said Haslam. "But based solely on that circumstantial evidence we decided that it was time for Plakorus to part ways with the University of Montana, and so we did not renew his contract."

Haslam reiterated that he felt it was not his place to pass judgement on the evidence, saying that was the reason this information was not included in the University of Montana's statement that Plakorus would be leaving the program, which was announced Tuesday.

University of Montana Seth Bodnar released the following statement:

The University’s first priority in our athletic programs is the success and support of our student athletes. In this case, when concerns were raised, the university initiated a careful process with qualified professionals to examine the situation thoroughly. In early November, when athletic department leadership became aware of the concerns, the process began. The news of this week, the fact that we are seeking a new leadership direction in the soccer program, is the result of that process. To be clear, the university exercised its right, pursuant to the terms in the 1-year coaching contract, to non-renew this employee. We are committed to our first priority, our students, and will make sure we move forward in a manner that is supportive, transparent, and inclusive to serve the program’s needs.
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