A former member of the University of Virginia women's volleyball coaching staff claims a coaches-only meeting was secretly recorded by players in the lead-up to the coaches' dismissal and the remainder of the Cavaliers' season being canceled.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the dismissed staff member said players held their cell phones up to the door and adjacent walls of the Miami-area hotel room where the coaches met for three hours following a 3-0 loss at Miami on March 14 that kept Virginia winless in the ACC.
As reported by the Times-Dispatch, it is unknown if the players demanded the coaches’ termination, but the former staff member said continuing the season at that point would have been untenable.
“It was a rough trip. A lot of trust was broken between both parties on that trip and it would have been a really big uphill battle to actually finish that season given what happened that night,” the former staff member said. “But for the players, I haven’t spoken to any of them, so I have no idea if they were happy with that outcome. If they realized what they were doing was going to cause this or not.”
With the team's record at 2-12, the school announced March 17 that the entire coaching staff — head coach Aaron Smith, assistants Nikki Dailey and Joe Klein, and director of volleyball operations Kelsea Kalich — had been placed on “a paid administrative leave pending the review of a personnel matter,” and that the team’s upcoming matches against Florida State and Louisville had been canceled.
According to the former staff member, the team returned to Virginia on Monday, March 15. UVA officials interviewed the staff members the following day, then interviewed a select group of players before deciding to fire the coaches a day later. The source added that the official termination letter the school issued did not cite the recording as the cause for the dismissals. That letter contained both true and false allegations, according to the former staff member, though the source declined to reveal to the Times-Dispatch what any of those were.
On April 26, Virginia hired Florida assistant Shannon Wells to take over the program.