The University of Arkansas Athletic Department has announced the departure of women’s volleyball coach Robert Pulliza, under fire recently by players who complained of abusive methods.
Robert Pulliza has resigned from his position as the head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Arkansas, which was announced on Wednesday by Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long.
“I have accepted Coach Pulliza’s resignation and we wish him the best in his future coaching career,” Long said. “I believe we have the components for building a strong volleyball program while competing for Southeastern Conference championships and consistently competing in the NCAA Tournament.”
“I appreciate the opportunity and honor to have been the head volleyball coach at the University of Arkansas,” Pulliza said. “I will always have fond memories of the university, the Razorback staff and coaches, and the players I had the privilege of coaching.”
Long announced that a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately. Associate head coach Carol Price-Torok will serve as the interim head coach.
Arkansas ended the 2015 season with a 17-13 record (7-11 SEC). In his eight seasons with the Razorbacks, Pulliza posted a record of 122-124, including a 67-87 record in SEC matches. During his tenure, the Razorbacks made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
No mention was made of the anonymous letter sent the department calling for Pulliza’s resignation. It complained of abusive practices, including threatening and demeaning remarks. The contents of the letter was affirmed by four current or former players in interviews conducted by the Arkansas Traveler campus newspaper, but some players also reportedly circulated statements supportive of the coach. As recently as last Thursday, the Athletic Department issued a news release touting “player development” on the volleyball team.
Yesterday, Pulliza released a statement — ominously distributed without UA markings by a Little Rock PR firm — in which Pulliza denied allegations of threatening and demeaning language. But he also said, tellingly I thought:
Many of the allegations made against me speak more to a style of coaching that might not be for everyone, but is not uncommon in college athletics.
I’ve asked the Athletic Department for severance considerations, if any. According to the UA budget, Pulliza makes about $129,000 a year, with $13,000 coming from the Razorback Foundation.
The story has drawn some national attention, including this week in the Daily Beast, which headlined Pulliza as the Bobby Knight of women’s volleyball, after the volatile former basketball coach at Indiana.