NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- Ashley McElhiney is remaining as coach
of the Nashville Rhythm after the ABA team said Thursday that a
co-owner didn't have the authority to fire her.
"We understand any disappointment and anger our fans felt from
the incident," general manager Daniel Bucher said in a statement.
"But we now ask them to please put this in context with the whole
season and show their support for our coach and the team. The
Rhythm needs our fans to help us finish the season successfully."
McElhiney is the first female to coach a men's professional
Co-owner Sally Anthony fired McElhiney on Saturday night during the
third quarter of the Rhythm's 110-109 victory over Kansas City
after the coach ignored demands to bench a player. Security guards
had to escort Anthony off the court.
Anthony is one of three owners of Nashville's first-year
American Basketball Association franchise. But her husband, Tony
Bucher, is replacing her as the Rhythm's chief executive officer.
Daniel Bucher declined to discuss his sister-in-law, who was
taken to a hospital hours after the firing for mixing Xanax and
alcohol, according to a relative on a tape of the 911 call. He said
she would remain part of the ownership group but declined to
"She gave Ashley a great opportunity and every one of these
players to play in the United States. We think that's a very
positive thing," the general manager said.
McElhiney, 23, had no coaching experience when hired last May,
but she has led the Rhythm to an 18-7 record.
"I am committed to moving forward with the Rhythm and ask our
fans and the city of Nashville to continue to support our team,"
McElhiney said Thursday.
The Rhythm are scheduled to play St. Louis on Saturday night in
McElhiney's hometown of Gleason. The game will be at her old high
school, where the gym holds 1,450, which would be a good crowd for
the ABA team.
Center Adam Sonn, sidelined with a broken foot, said Thursday's
decision came as a relief.
"I'm glad she's back as the coach for sure," Sonn said. "This
is the best answer."