Central Michigan fires gymnastics coach Jerry Reighard


Jerry Reighard has been fired as Central Michigan's gymnastics coach, CMU Athletics announced.

Reighard was placed on paid administrative leave by the CMU Athletic Department pending an internal investigation on Feb. 20. Nearly two months later, the university has officially dismissed Reighard, according to a CMU Athletics press release.

The firing comes two weeks after the university delivered him a 121-page investigation report detailing the allegation that he told a gymnast to lie about an injury in order to compete. 

The investigation report from CMU Faculty Personnel Services cites "egregious misconduct" by Reighard, and it was an attempt to "undermine the university's concussion management plan," according to a press release from the athletic program. 

The internal investigation involved 24 interviews with current team members, medical and athletic training staff. Reighard was the final interview.

CMU's press release regarding Reighard's termination for cause said the longtime coach created a "hostile atmosphere contradictory to CMU's independent medical model, which gives physicians and athletic trainers authority to determine the management of injuries without interference from coaches."

Athletic Director Michael Alford also made a statement on the situation, explaining the findings in the investigation could lead to an NCAA violation. Alford said the athletics staff will cooperate in self-report the matter regarding Reighard to the NCAA.

“Our student-athletes and their families trust us to protect our students,” Alford said. “We will not tolerate a callous disregard of safety. We will not tolerate actions that put students in the way of significant and even life-threatening injuries. Student safety at Central Michigan University is an absolute priority, always.”

Reighard's response to the 121-page report was received and reviewed, but it did not change CMU's decision to terminate him, the press release said.

Reighard did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this season, Alford wrote in a letter to Reighard that he had been accused of engaging in misconduct with a student-athlete on the gymnastics team. 

A gymnast reported to the athletic department that Reighard directed her to provide false information to medical staff related to her fitness to compete. Alford then suspended the longtime gymnastics coach. 

Central Michigan Life received a copy of that letter, and the rest of Reighard's personnel file, through a Freedom of Information Act request. The newspaper was charged $404 by the university to receive the requested documents.

Through those documents, it became clear Reighard's past was filled with both positive and negative remarks from those around his program.

Other gymnasts also came forward to discusses their experiences with Reighard.

His contract was originally set to expire on April 30, 2019. He made $145,349 this year as CMU's coach.

Associate head coach Christine MacDonald finished out the 2019 season as the leader for the Chippewas. CMU lost in the first round of the NCAA Championships to Illinois, 195.325-195.275.

Reighard guided CMU to 16 Mid-American Conference championships since his start in 1984. Prior to taking over as the head coach, he worked as a graduate assistant beginning in 1975. He’s a nine-time MAC Coach of the Year, obtaining an overall record of 522-258-5.

A Westland native, Reighard judged gymnastics in the 1996 Olympics. He is a CMU alum with both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university.