Mike Evans Exonerated By Bellevue

Mike Evans Mug New Mexico StBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball
(From the Feb. 21, 2014 issue)

BELLEVUE, Neb. — Bellevue University has reached a settlement with long time baseball coach Mike Evans that exonerates him of any wrongdoing with events surrounding the team’s forfeiture of 40 games during the 2010 season.

The financial aspects of the settlement are confidential and were not disclosed.

Evans, who coached at Bellevue for 22 years from 1989-2010 with a 928-457-1 record, led the Bruins to 12 NAIA World Series appearances while earning an NAIA national title in 1995.

He did not have his contract renewed following the 2010 season.

Late that season, allegations were made that a transfer document from Sam Houston State for player Jon Reed was never received by Bellevue Athletics’ Director Ed Lehotak.

According to Evans, Lehotak told him that he never received the release. Evans responded that he was informed by the Bellevue administrator who handled transfer releases that it had arrived months prior to this. Evans said he and two other witnesses were at a meeting with this administrator to make sure the transfer release had been received. In addition, paperwork turned in by this administrator verified the transfer release was in as a document was sent to the NAIA.

The former Bellevue coach said Lehotak never bothered to ask this administrator to arrange for another transfer release to be sent from Sam Houston State to clear the matter up and instead self reported the problem to the NAIA just as the baseball team was entering the post-season playoffs.

The NAIA ultimately ruled two of the wins were allowed in 2010 since Reed didn’t play in those games while 40 games were either forfeited or lost during that season as Bellevue suffered a 2-40 season despite closing the regular portion of season with 29 wins in 30 games.

When Evans’ contract was not renewed at Bellevue, he said it took nearly a year to find another job as he applied for 175 jobs with no success until Head Coach Rocky Ward at New Mexico State hired him as the Aggies’ pitching coach in 2011.

Evans FAXed a copy of a letter to Collegiate Baseball that Bellevue President Mary Hawkins sent to him on Sept. 20, 2013 that stated: “Dear Mr. Evans. After reviewing the facts and the circumstances leading to the 2009-10 forfeiture of the Men’s Baseball season, Bellevue University has concluded that you properly directed university staff to obtain a Release from a transferring student’s university.

“However, the staff failed to obtain the Release which ultimately resulted in the University to self-report to the NAIA. The University wishes you the best with your future coaching endeavors and thanks you for your past service for over 20 years.”

Evans said in a release that he was thrilled with the financial settlement outcome from Bellevue.

“What I am not thrilled with is the fact that we lost our season,” said Evans.

“It still haunts me every day that our season was taken away from my players who gave their blood, sweat and tears for each other and their dreams of becoming the next national champion for Bellevue University.”

To read more about Coach Mike Evans’ 3-year battle to clear his name, purchase the February 21, 2014 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.