The University of Montana has fired athletic director Jim O’Day and head football coach Robin Pflugrad.
The termination took place around 8 a.m. this morning. UM President Royce Engrstrom released an official statement earlier this afternoon. The statement reads:
"The University of Montana has determined not to renew the contracts of Athletics Director Jim O’Day and head football coach Robin Pflugrad. The University will announce an interim athletics director and interim head coach by the end of the week. Further details about the search for permanent replacements will be released as the process develops. We thank Jim and Robin for their dedicated service to the University, and we wish them the best."
No reason for the termination was given in the statement.
Pflugrad declined comment to the Missoulian as he exited the Adams Center shortly before noon in Missoula today. He confirmed he had been fired and said he would not comment until he had a chance to address his team.
O’Day has not returned a phone message left by the Chronicle. UM vice president Jim Foley declined to explain the termination, saying Engstrom’s statement speaks for itself.
The UM football team closed Friday’s practice to the public and the media. The team, along with the UM student body, go on spring break beginning on Saturday.
Assistant athletic director Greg Sundberg sent a notice to the Missoulian this morning stating the following:
“It is with great sadness that I inform you all that this morning our Athletic Director, Jim O’Day and Head Football Coach Robin Pflugrad were released of their duties as of 8 a.m. this morning. It will be a very difficult time for all of us in the coming days and I would ask that you stay positive.
“As more information comes out, I will be sure to let you know. At this point, and time, this is all that I know.”
O’Day was appointed UM athletic director by former UM president George Dennison in 2005. Prior to his appointment as AD, O’Day spent four years as the Director of Development for Intercollegiate Athletics at UM.
MTN News affiliate KPAX of Missoula received the following email that O’Day wrote to members of the Grizzly Scholarship Association Thursday morning following his firing.
Thanks so much for all the hard work and support I've received from each of you the past 8 years as athletic director and 6 years prior to that with the GSA and UM Foundation. It has been quite a ride. While this comes as a shock to both Robin and myself, it is part of today's global picture of intercollegiate athletics across the country. I realized that when I took the job.
I wish you all the best --- and look forward to seeing all of you at some point down the road.
The Montana football team is in the midst of spring drills. Pflugrad’s squad is fresh off an 11-3 campaign that included a run to the FCS semifinals and a share of the Big Sky Conference championship last fall. In two seasons at the helm for the Griz, Pflugrad is 18-7.
UM has been marred by a slew of sexual assault allegations and controversy as to how the university handles the indiscretions.
Most recently, junior starting quarterback Jordan Johnson missed the beginning of spring drills because of a temporary restraining order filed against him by a female UM student. The student said she was a victim of a sexual assault and Johnson was the perpetrator. UM kept Johnson out of practice because the restraining order was a violation of a section of the student-athlete conduct code.