ECU ousts two softball coaches

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- East Carolina is firing suspended softball coach Tracey Kee and associate head coach Natalie Kozlowski following an internal inquiry into complaints about the program.

The school said Friday that it has begun the process to dismiss the coaches. Its investigation found an emotionally hostile environment in the program, identified five potential secondary NCAA violations and said property and financial matters may not have been properly overseen.

The two coaches were suspended with pay Aug. 31 pending the outcome of the probe.

Chancellor Steve Ballard says the school received an anonymous letter May 15 outlining concerns, and began its investigation one day later.

The school says its review found the coaches were not forthcoming to investigators, inappropriate comments were made to players, and the coaches encouraged the violation of school policies.

As part of the probe, the school says players, coaches and staff were interviewed, and 10 years of data was reviewed, including recent travel and expense records.

School officials say they will self-report the potential violations to the NCAA next month and will review the entire athletic department to make sure players may express their concerns without fear of retribution.

Athletic director Terry Holland says volunteer assistant Courtney Crews will be in charge of the program until a new coach is named. He expects that to happen by the end of October.

Kee, an East Carolina graduate, had been in charge of the program since 1997. Kozlowski arrived in 2000 from Towson and had been her associate head coach since 2007.