Cities deny access of softball facilities to controversial former Auburn coach Clint Myers and sons
Two Alabama cities have decided not to lease public facilities to former Auburn softball coach Clint Myers, who apparently was planning to use the fields to coach the Chinese national softball team along with his two sons, Corey and Casey.
"We could not come to terms with the Chinese team, and we're not going to do it," said Russell Melnick, chairman of the parks and recreation board in Opelika.
Earlier, Auburn parks and recreation director Becky Richardson said that the city of Auburn decided "not to move forward with a contract at this time."
Both Richardson and Opelika parks and recreation director Sam Bailey said they had been negotiating with Clint Myers on behalf of the Chinese national team.
The decisions come after former Auburn player Anna Gibbs called parks and recreation officials and urged them not to allow the Myerses to use the facilities. Gibbs, who played for Auburn from 2014-16, was part of a Title IX complaint that led to Corey Myers being banned from the university's campus on Aug. 21, 2017. The investigation concluded that Corey Myers had violated school policy by pursuing inappropriate sexual relationships with more than one student.
Two days later, Clint Myers announced his retirement from Auburn. Corey Myers had resigned as associate head coach on March 30 of last year after players presented evidence of his improprieties to the athletic department.
"I've said, 'This is what happened to me. You can't let this happen to anyone else,'" Gibbs said of her conversation with the parks department officials.
The Chinese Softball Association has not announced or acknowledged whether it has hired Clint Myers and his sons to coach its national team. Emails to its president, Dr. Yang Xu, have gone unanswered. Neither Clint nor Corey Myers have responded to phone messages seeking comment.
Travel plans for the team, which was scheduled to arrive in Alabama on Monday to begin practicing with their new coaching staff, reportedly have been put on hold. The team was expected to train in Alabama through December before moving their workouts to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida.
Until Saturday, the city of Opelika was their likely home.
"We were told that the Chinese team is going to use the field and Clint Myers is going to be the coach, and I never even thought of his son coaching, too," Melnick said.
The Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau confirmed to ESPN that both Clint and Corey Myers had been making arrangements with local hotels to provide lodging for the dozens of players they've recruited from China, along with a group of interpreters and other assistants.
"They're bringing in a chef, and Corey has found a Japanese steakhouse that's not open at lunch where the chef is going to prepare their food," bureau official Cindy Pugh said earlier this week.
The Myers family's return to the sport would add another contentious chapter to the career of a coach who won two national championships at Arizona State and came within a game of a national championship at Auburn. In 2011, Corey Myers was formally banned from the Arizona State softball program for conflicts of interest related to personal business matters.
Gibbs, who was unnamed in an espnW story detailing allegations of abuse by Myers earlier this year, decided to speak publicly for the first time. She said she was worried the Chinese women could be "vulnerable."
"They are coming to this country to pursue their Olympic dream, and they're dependent on [each] Myers," she said. "There is a cultural divide, there is a language divide, and they are completely dependent on these men who in the past have abused that power."
Cheri Kempf, commissioner of National Pro Fastpitch, which fields two teams with Chinese players, spoke out against the supposed hiring of the Myerses.
"I've been proud of China being in this league," Kempf said. "If you care about this sport, you have to care about it on a global basis. The Chinese believe they need coaches to help them compete in the Olympics, and I often recommended coaches to them. But I've never recommended Clint or Corey or Casey Myers, and I can't see any scenario where it's prudent for the NPF to have Corey Myers as a coach of any team.
"I don't know if China understands the repercussions, or the severity of my position as an advocate for girls and women. I've enjoyed the participation of the Chinese teams. It's upsetting that I'm in the position of being at odds with them."
Clint Myers and his sons apparently came to the attention of the Chinese Softball Association through the advocacy of Hunter Veach, who worked at Auburn as a volunteer assistant and came to revere Clint Myers, as he told ESPN last spring, as "one of the greatest coaches in the game."
Veach was an assistant coach this year for the Cleveland Comets, one of the NPF teams featuring Chinese players. According to two senior sources with the Cleveland organization, Veach opened a dialogue with CSA officials about the Myerses' ability to develop players. He was fired with five games left in their season for what the Comets regarded as back-channel activities, but he is expected to join the staff of the Chinese national team if Clint Myers becomes the head coach.
Several weeks ago, Veach joined Corey and Casey Myers on a recruiting trip to China, according to multiple sources. Veach has not responded to ESPN's requests for comment.
Softball will return to the Olympics in 2020 after being absent from the Games since 2008. China won its lone medal, a silver, at the 1996 Olympics. The tournament in 2020 will feature six teams. Japan and the United States are the only two countries that have qualified.
"They're placed in another world," Gibbs said. "They don't have anything but this dream of playing in the Olympics, and then they have the Myers, connecting them to their dream. It's not like they're here for a career, or to go to school. They're going to wake up every day doing softball and depending on the Myers, depending on Corey. That's just really scary."