IVCC women’s basketball coach Pat Cinotte isn’t happy with the direction the school’s athletic department is heading.
So after four years leading the Lady Eagles, Cinotte decided to step down.
“There’s no sense putting 110 percent into the program when I’m not sure the school is behind it,” Cinotte said.
There were three reasons behind Cinotte’s decision — a tuition waiver freeze, a pay cut for assistant coaches and the uncertain future of IVCC’s athletic home.
Toward the end of February, Cinotte said a tuition waiver freeze was put in place.
He was asked for a list of players he was recruiting — he gave a list of 7-10 names — and was told he could only give waivers to those players.
If those players chose to go somewhere else, Cinotte said he was unable to add new players to the list even if she expressed interest in playing for IVCC.
Cinotte said he experienced a gradual reduction in his allotted waivers. He started with 12, had it cut to 10, then it dropped to nine this season and he expected it to be eight or less for next season.
“When I came here, I said I wanted to build the program into a national power, and I think we did, but when they keep taking away waivers and freezing recruiting, it ties our hands,” Cinotte said.
Last Tuesday, the IVCC board voted to reduce pay for assistant coaches to a total of $2,500 per sport and approved a freeze on head coaches’ salaries.
“They cut assistant coach pay quite a bit and that really hurt,” Cinotte said.
Cinotte said he received an email about two weeks ago stating that IVCC was considering leaving the Arrowhead Conference in favor of being independent because only two sports are competitive in the conference.
“There are a lot of things going on and a lot of things up in the air,” said Cinotte, adding he never heard a final decision on a possible conference change. “I question the whole direction (of the athletic department), but it’s up to the administration.”
In four seasons, Cinotte led the Lady Eagles to a 103-29 record, two NJCAA Division II National Tournament appearances and a co-Arrowhead Conference title.
Cinotte also coached three future NCAA Division I players — Shannon Washington, Danielle Hellickson and Arnisha Thomas — and two NJCAA All-Americans in Washington and Thomas.
Cinotte was two-time Region IV Coach of the Year, two-time Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year and the 2011 Arrowhead Conference co-Coach of the Year.
“We’ve done some great things,” Cinotte said. “There are only a couple of schools that can top us record-wise. We’ve had academic all-Americans and regular all-Americans. We’ve accomplished a lot, but when you don’t have the backing, it’s pretty tough, and that’s the way we’re feeling right now.
“I love basketball and love coaching, but you can only put up with so much.”
Cinotte said he’s uncertain about his coaching future, but is willing to consider a variety of opportunities if they present themselves.
“We’ll see if anything comes up down the road,” said Cinotte, who previously coached girls basketball at Hall and boys basketball at DePue. “There are some AAU teams I know I can go to right away. I may be an assistant coach at a juco or help at a high school. The door’s open. I won’t rule out anything.”
Cinotte said assistant coach Rex Shaneyfelt also resigned.
IVCC athletic director Tommy Canale could not be reached for comment.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.