Athletic Director Chris Gage retired suddenly in the middle of the academic year, leaving his position on Jan. 22, after more than 10 years at UTD.
Several coaches said that Gage resigned from his post without warning and retired the same day he issued his resignation.
In an interview with The Mercury on Jan. 30, Gage said it was time for him to separate himself from the job at UTD.
“You are in intercollegiate athletics for almost 40 years, and at some point in time you have to walk away from something you really enjoy,” Gage said.
Gage’s retirement comes just two months after the athletic department released successful longtime women’s soccer coach John Antonisse. In his 17 years at UTD, Antonisse led his team to two ASC titles and won 80 percent of his ASC games.
Neither Gage nor university administration gave any information as to why Antonisse and his assistant coach, Katie Challenger, were released from their duties.
Gage acknowledged that his retirement was related in part to Antonisse’s release.
“I’m sure that some of it did (relate),” said Gage. “My concern is always for the care and wellbeing of the student athletes, and (Antonisse’s release) in a way probably did (relate).”
Antonisse said he felt he was wrongly terminated and had sought legal counsel and made a petition to UTD President David Daniel for his reinstatement.
“There was no reason for me to get fired because I did a great job,” said Antonisse. “I didn’t do anything illegal, I didn’t do anything unethical and I didn’t break any rules.”
The university chose not to reinstate Antonisse and instead hired Kanute Drugan as the women’s soccer coach on Feb. 7. Antonisse has been hired as the head women’s soccer coach at Brookhaven College, a Dallas County community college. Challenger was recently hired as an administrative assistant at the Nanotech Institute at UTD.
Gage, meanwhile, said that despite his retirement from UTD, he would not rule out working in college sports again.
“I would love to be able to find another position in intercollegiate athletics,” Gage said.
In the past 10 years under Gage’s direction, the UTD athletics department has grown from 187 student athletes in fall 2003 to almost 300 students at the start of this year.
Bill Petitt, the associate athletic director for external affairs, has been named the interim athletic director following Gage’s retirement. He joined the athletic department in January 2007.