A longtime, successful football coach at a small, private liberal arts school in the south came under scrutiny after allegations were raised concerning his behavior toward student-athletes, including ignoring COVID-19 rules and forcing players to play hurt. He was put on a performance plan that he then failed to adhere to. The school had a new president who was preparing to inform his Board—in his very first Board meeting–that he planned to remove the coach. The coach’s supporters, including key donors and alumni, were very vocal in their backing of the coach, threatening to divide not only the football team but the campus community as well. Selected by the president, BMCG was retained by the school’s outside counsel to provide strategic counsel to the new president and launch a stakeholder-centric communications effort in support of the president’s eventual announcement.

Actions / Recommendations:

  • Identified strategic next steps, which included framing the decision as best for student athletes and confirming there were no plans to disinvest from the football program
  • Created a plan for the president to speak to and rally board members
  • Supported the college in its efforts to reach a settlement with the former coach, and hire a replacement
  • Developed all communication materials including core messaging/talking points, FAQs, and Hard Qs, targeted to key stakeholder groups including board members, faculty, and students


While the vocal minority continued to press the issue, most in the community supported the move and were reassured of the school’s commitment to the football program. A settlement was reached, and the school was able to focus on hiring a new coach.