Ave Maria losing volleyball, soccer coaches, considers adding baseball and softball programs

Ave Maria University will have at least two new coaches — and maybe two new sports — next season.

Melissa Chaplin, the women’s volleyball coach and sports information director, has taken a women’s volleyball coaching job in North Carolina, athletic director Brian Scanlan said.

Julie Cosden, the women’s soccer coach, decided not to return, citing her responsibilities as the school’s director of student life, Scanlan said. Cosden plans to continue with the program in some capacity, potentially as the team’s assistant coach, Scanlan added.

Chaplin, 30, will be the new coach at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, an NCAA Division II school in southeastern North Carolina.

“I will be forever grateful to Ave Maria University for the chance to be their first ever volleyball coach and having the pleasure of working with such great people,” Chaplin said on Ave Maria University’s athletics Web site.

Ave Maria hired Chaplin in February 2008. Chaplin — formerly Duffield — played for Florida Gulf Coast University in 2005.

Chaplin led the Gyrenes to a 8-20 record competing as an NAIA independent. The Gyrenes will be in the NAIA’s Sun Conference next year.

Scanlan said Chaplin’s opportunity to move up to a NCAA Division II school was too good to pass up.

“I knew from the very beginning that she is ambitious and wants to succeed,” Scanlan said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for her.”

St. Andrews plans to announce Chaplin’s hiring in the next two days, a St. Andrews athletic department spokesman said in an e-mail to the Daily News.

Chaplin could not be reached for comment.

Cosden, 28, coached women’s soccer for three years at Ave Maria, the first two seasons as its club coach. Last year, the team had a 1-5-1 record.

“I’m very happy she’s going to stay involved with the program,” Scanlan said.

The school has posted advertisements on its Web site and on the NAIA’s site not only to replace Chaplin and Cosden, but also for a baseball and softball coach.

Baseball and softball are club sports at the school, but are under consideration to become the seventh and eighth intercollegiate sports offered next year.

Scanlan plans to meet with players from both teams within the next two weeks. The final decision will be made by the school’s university council, a panel of high-ranking administrators, Scanlan said.

“If I feel and (the players) feel they are willing to move up to intercollegiate sports, then I will make a recommendation to the university council that we do so,” he said.

He added the school must notify the NAIA if it wants to promote either of the club sports by May 1.

All the coaching positions are advertised as “part-time,” but are expected to develop into full-time jobs dependent on “the strength of the program and program success,” the advertisement said.

The school has received more than 100 inquiries since it posted the ad on the NAIA’s site last week, Scanlan said.

Ave Maria also competes in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s soccer and men’s golf.

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