CU volleyball: Rick George feels Buffs needed ‘change in leadership’

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Liz Kritza and CU administration didn’t see eye to eye off the court.

Had Colorado administration judged Liz Kritza solely on her win-loss record, she might still be the Buffaloes’ head volleyball coach.

Ultimately, however, the CU administration determined that they needed someone else to lead the program and dismissed Kritza on Thursday.

“There’s a lot more to coaching than winning and losing,” athletic director Rick George said on Friday. “I just felt like we needed a change in leadership at the top, and we made the decision to move forward on that.”

On the court, it was tough to argue with Kritza’s results. In seven seasons, she was just 90-125, but 57-41 in the last three seasons, with trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2014. At 19-13 (11-9 Pac-12) this year, the Buffs were perceived being snubbed for this year’s NCAA Tournament.

It was off the court, however, where Kritza and administration didn’t see eye to eye.

“It really comes down to expectations that we have — our core values, our vision and providing a world-class experience for our student athletes,” he said. “If I feel at some point that it doesn’t fit all of that, I may intercede and interject and make a decision that I think is in the best interest of our program. I felt like this was a time to move in a different direction with our leadership.”

In late October, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ryal Jagd was placed on administrative leave and he did not return to the team.

George was asked if Kritza’s dismissal had anything to do with Jagd’s situation, and while he declined to provide details about that situation, he said, “The head coach is responsible for the program. Anything underneath that, which the head coach is over all of it, is that person’s responsibility, and at the end of the day, they’re the ones that will be held accountable.”

George met with the players on Thursday and said their reaction to the news was “measured.”

“Whenever you tell somebody that you’re going to change leadership in a program, when the coach had recruited you and brought you in, I think there’s mixed emotions,” he said. “We had a good discussion and the focus right now is for them to have some social life, get their academics in order and, as I told them, we are going to hire the very best coach, leader and mentor that we can.”

CU is not wasting any time in finding a new coach.

On Friday evening, CU announced a 10-person search committee, chaired by senior associate athletic director Ceal Barry. Other members of the committee are: associate athletic directors Lance Carl and Matt Biggers; human resources liaison Tracy Tripp; assistant manager of recruitment and senior HR consultant Andy Horowitz; CU-Boulder faculty chair Joe Jupille; and players Cierra Simpson, Katelyn Cuff, Anna Pfefferle and Naghede Abu.

There is no timetable for finding a new coach, but George said, “We hope to start the interview process next week.”

Associate head coach JT Wenger is serving as interim coach, and George said Wenger “will be a serious candidate for this position.”

CU is allowed to use just six multi-year contracts, and Kritza did not have one of those. The school does, however, have one available and George said “it’s a possibility” the volleyball coach will get a multi-year deal.

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.