Gavin Bell, a left fielder at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colo., was looking for a place to play in college and stumbled upon Texas Wesleyan, an NAIA school in Fort Worth. Apparently thinking it could be a good fit, his father sent an inquiry to Rams baseball Coach Mike Jeffcoat about possibly playing for the Rams.
But Jeffcoat did not think Bell would be a good fit because he hails from Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014. Jeffcoat told Bell this in an email that quickly went viral.
Jeffcoat’s response apparently was not appreciated by Texas Wesleyan officials. On Thursday, the school fired him after 16 years at the school.
“Mike Jeffcoat is no longer an employee with Texas Wesleyan University,” school president Fred Slabach said at a news conference. “He was separated from the university due to the discriminatory remarks contained in an email to a potential recruit from the state of Colorado and for another factor that we have been investigating for the last week. This additional factor is an NAIA rule violation that has recently came to our attention.”
Slabach would not divulge any details about the other “factor,” saying only it concerned the eligibility of players and was not a Title IX violation.
Putting aside the fact that marijuana is legal in Colorado because its voters wanted it to be — the 2012 ballot initiative that cleared the way for it passed with 55 percent of the vote — and not because of its “liberal politicians,” the logical leap Jeffcoat took in his email to Bell seemed to defy explanation.
“I’ve never seen a coach send an email like that to a kid. I was kind of shocked a coach would connect a political issue to a kid,” Allan Dyer, Bell’s former high school coach, told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. “It just made no sense. The student has not been in trouble one time at our school.”
Plus, the Rams have one player from Colorado on their roster: freshman outfielder Logan Bistrup. Another, catcher Aidan Laurini from Centennial, Colo., was listed on Texas Wesleyan’s 2017 roster as a junior, though he’s not on this year’s roster and has not compiled any statistics through 13 games. His Twitter bio still starts with “Texas Wesleyan baseball,” however, and in October he was mentioned as a senior in a story about an intrasquad scrimmage on the team’s official website.
Jeffcoat, who spent 10 MLB seasons as a left-handed relief pitcher for four teams, had been Texas Wesleyan’s coach since 2002.
Bell told the Chronicle he simply was looking to get closer to his family’s roots.
“All I know is he got back to me on the 20th and I am a Texas native and we were just looking at the schools in the area I had used to live in,” he told the Chronicle, adding that he hoped Jeffcoat didn’t lose his job over the incident.
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