Rex Ecarma, Louisville tennis

Louisville tennis coach Rex Ecarma has been placed on paid leave during a university investigation.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville has fired men's tennis coach Rex Ecarma. 

After an independent investigation into Ecarma's program, Athletics Director Vince Tyra said his department has "determined that a change in leadership is needed.”

According to a news release from Louisville Athletics, "U of L has exercised the 10-day notice provision in Ecarma’s agreement to terminate his services without cause, effective Aug. 26." Ecarma will be compensated for the remainder of his contract with the university, which runs through 2023. 

"We have been clear about our roles and expectations in providing our student-athletes an outstanding experience while a part of our program," Tyra said in the news release. "The conclusion of an independent investigation into our men’s tennis program determined otherwise.

"We will turn our attention to landing another outstanding person and coach, along the lines of recent hires, in order to develop terrific people while competing for championships."

Assistant coach Jakob Gustafsson will serve as the team's interim coach while U of L conducts a search for Ecarma's replacement.

In a statement through his attorney, Ecarma said he is disappointed by the decision and that he "was never presented any allegations, by anyone, against me, despite repeated requests."

"Mid-inquiry, the university publicly stated there were no NCAA, criminal or Title IX violations but told me little else," Ecarma said in the statement. "At no time did any player, assistant coach, student, fan or anyone make a complaint to me. I cooperated fully in the inquiry. I have always maintained the highest and most rigorous standards for myself. I care deeply for the players I’ve had the honor of coaching and mentoring.

"I am also aware that throughout the inquiry the university president and the athletic director were showered with letters and calls of support for me, from community leaders, alumni, and especially former players, whose testimonials demonstrated my commitment to them both during their careers at U of L and after.

"After this lengthy inquiry - conducted by university personnel - not independently as has been written - cause for my termination was obviously not found. That doesn’t surprise me because there is no cause. There could not have been. The present administration and athletic director obviously wanted a new tennis coach, for reasons that were never explained to me."

According to previous reporting, Ecarma was placed on paid administrative leave June 27 while the university reviewed issues raised by some of the program's players. 

A Louisville native, Ecarma amassed more than 400 wins in 29 seasons at U of L and led the program to five conference championships. The Cardinals finished 16-13 this past season and fell to No. 9-ranked North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

"I want to publicly express my appreciation to the many former players, friends, and fans of the program who have expressed their support," the coach said. "I did not let you down. I look forward to the next step in my career, and I will always be a Louisville Cardinal."

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