Ex-TCU golf coach never wanted to leave, which is why he’s suing the school (2024)

FORT WORTH, Texas — Bill Montigel now joins Bill Belichick and Wade Phillips as examples of coaches who are considered “too old” to do their job when all they want to do is to just keep coaching.

And yet none of the above is quite old enough to be President of the United States.

Among the many differences between the former TCU men’s golf coach and the former NFL head football coaches, only one was willing to sue over it.

On Monday, one of TCU’s longest serving members of its athletic department filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the university. This is awkward, sad, and it didn’t need to come to this.

Some of the allegations in the lawsuit filed by Montigel’s lawyer, Rogge Dunn in Dallas, are personal, salacious, ugly and in the end this will probably be settled with a “go away” check.

Montigel was TCU’s men’s golf coach from 1987 to the end of 2023 season. He was upset, and hurt, when in the summer of 2022 TCU director of athletics Jeremiah Donati basically asked that he step down/retire after the 2023 season.

TCU’s desire was to use the 2023 spring season as a celebration of Montigel’s Hall of Fame career, but he had no interest in participating. Montigel, who had built one of the NCAA’s better men’s golf programs in his career, had zero interest in retiring. Or quitting.

He wanted to keep coaching the TCU men’s golf team.

The disagreement became a quiet fight, and now there is a lawsuit complete with an assortment of ugly allegations.

Donati did not respond to a request for comment for this column.

“Donati assumed that just because I was 68 that I could no longer do my job — nothing could be further from the truth,” Montigel said in a statement provided by his attorney. “It’s not easy to sue a school you love, but I want to shine a light on age discrimination and retaliation in TCU’s athletic department.”

Montigel worked this past season at the University of California-Davis as its associate men’s golf coach.

This lawsuit reflects a growing problem in our work force; a sector of employees who can retire, but don’t want to. A sector of employees who are old enough to retire, but can’t because of money. A sector of employers who desperately want those people to leave.

“One goal of this lawsuit is to effect meaningful change in TCU’s athletic department,” Dunn said in a statement. “With people living longer and financially needing to keep working, age discrimination cases are more prevalent.”

Near the end of his tenure at TCU, Montigel’s status had become a point of quiet contention among a small number of TCU athletics supporters, including a few of his former players.

They wanted a coach who would not rely so heavily on players from overseas, which has become a common route for nearly all of the top NCAA Division I Olympic sport programs. For instance, the TCU men’s tennis team that recently won the NCAA national title featured a roster of 10 players, seven are from overseas.

Montigel was frustrated at the continued state of TCU’s practice facilities; the TCU players, men and women, use a variety of courses all over town, including Colonial Country Club, Shady Oak Country Club, etc. They rotate depending on day of the week, and availability.

Nearly all of the top major programs in the country have their own designated practice facility; it’s the cost of doing business in the insane game of major college sports.

Shortly after it was announced that Montigel was out, former TCU standout women’s player Angela Stanford publicly expressed frustration over the decision. “If you want to get better than Bill Montigel, who are you going to get?” she said.

Montigel was named the 2023 Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year, among a long list of career achievements. Under Montigel, TCU made 32 consecutive NCAA regional appearances, and won eight conference titles.

To succeed Montigel, TCU hired Oklahoma assistant coach Bill Allcorn, 38. In his first season, TCU finished in last place in the 2024 Big 12 championships and had one player participate in the NCAA championships.

TCU has a level of deniability on the age discrimination charges because, at the time, Montigel was part of a dramatic turnover among their head coaches. People such as football coach Gary Patterson, baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle, volleyball coach Jill Kramer and track coach Daryl Anderson were all let go, or left on their own, as the department overhauled its staff.

The lawsuit includes a sworn deposition from former TCU men’s golf associate head coach Adrien Mork, who is currently in the same role at the University of Arkansas.

The lawsuit states that when TCU assistant athletic director Michael Levy discussed a replacement for Montigel, Mork suggested hiring Chuck Winstead. Winstead coached LSU to a national title in 2015.

According to the lawsuit, Levy told Mork, “TCU is not going to hire some old coach who’s about to get fired.”

Among the many charges made in this lawsuit, that sounds believable. Because it’s sports. Because it’s life.

Just as it happened to Wade Phillips, it happened to Bill Belichick.

We all get too old, or make too much money, and some day the Job Grim Reaper wants all of us gone, replaced by someone younger, and cheaper.

The case of “Bill Montigel vs. TCU” will be the sad and awkward end to a once fruitful relationship that will conclude with a “go away” check.

Ex-TCU golf coach never wanted to leave, which is why he’s suing the school (2024)
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