A petition with 63 names was not enough to get Dixie State University’s men’s head soccer coach fired.
Francisco Garay, a junior CIT major from American Fork, started a petition after he said the team was being mistreated by head coach Danny Ortiz. DSU Athletic Director Jason Boothe met with the team Friday and said the decision had been made to keep Ortiz.
Boothe said seven players’ signatures were not enough to fire a coach who is respected by other members of the team. Other signatures came from former players, parents and community members.
The soccer team is fairly new on campus. It was added in 2008 and is still trying to grow a good reputation. However, only one winning season since it began and a high turnover rate of players has slowed the success of the program, and some past players said it is because of the coaching style of Ortiz.
DSU graduate Vincent Carroll played for Ortiz before he decided to leave the team because of his coaching style. Carroll said his freshman class had 12 players who entered the same season, and only two of these players were still on the team by the end of their senior year.
“More than 50 percent of the team is leaving year after year,” Carroll said. “Something needs to change or this program is never going to reach its potential.”
Garay is the most recent player to resign from the team. He signed his release Friday after the meeting with the team and Boothe.
Garay started the petition because he said Ortiz is disrespectful to players and works hard to belittle them.
“It is hard to play for a man who tells you how bad you are all of the time,” Garay said. “We are still learning the game. No one is going to be perfect.”
Garay said one day the team was having a scrimmage, and not everyone was able to play, so they would switch out after the half. One of the players on the sideline grabbed a soccer ball and started dribbling it to get warmed up. Ortiz then allegedly stopped the game, walked over to the player, and started yelling at him because he didn’t give the player permission to warm up. Ortiz told him to go home. The player apologized, but Ortiz insisted he leave the field. Garay said while the player was leaving, Ortiz told him he did not belong there.
“I couldn’t believe he said that in front of the team and to the player just for warming up,” Garay said. “He likes to bring players down to build himself up. He always has to be right.”
Carroll recalled a similar experience when he played on the team. The men were having a quick practice before they got on the bus for an away game, and a player kept making small, technical mistakes. Ortiz allegedly got frustrated and told the player he would never make it on the bus.
“Ortiz saying that to him was a big hit to the player’s confidence,” Carroll said. “There is no way you can recover from that.”
Carroll said coaches are supposed to build up players and help them improve while they are out on the field — not tear them down for the little mistakes they make.
Carroll said he was confident when he started his first season, but as the years went on, he felt like his self-confidence was dwindling and the sport was becoming less fun. Ultimately, he decided to leave the team and pursue other things.
Boothe said he took every signature into consideration, but in the end, the administration decided to keep Ortiz.
“The best choice was made for the team right now,” Boothe said. “He is building the program, and he has my full support.”
Ortiz declined to comment.