Lana Smith and volleyball team part ways


File photo contributed by Daryl Batt.

by Rachel Neumann, Staff reporter

Simpson head volleyball coach Lana Smith is out after 21 years with the Storm, Athletic Director Bob Nutgrass said Monday.

Nutgrass wouldn’t discuss the reasons for Smith’s departure, and Smith wasn’t available for comment.

“Once these kinds of things happen,” Nutgrass said. “You talk to the person, and they are offered some type of a severance package, and then they either accept it or don’t accept it. That is a standard procedure, and that is what we did.”

In an email to the Simpson staff and students on Monday morning, Nutgrass thanked Smith for her years of leadership and commitment to student-athletes.

“On behalf of the athletic department,” Nutgrass said. “I wanted to reach out and inform the campus community that Lana Smith’s services as head women’s volleyball coach at Simpson College have concluded.”

Smith’s staff profile has been removed from Simpson College’s athletic website along with her name plate outside of her former office.

Smith was the winningest coach in Simpson’s volleyball history, capturing 343 wins in 21 seasons.

Last season, the volleyball team went 8-19 overall, ending the season on an 11-game losing streak. Simpson was also winless in conference play, losing all eight American Rivers Conference matchups.

In her final five years as head coach, the Storm had a total of five conference wins.

Since winning the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship in 2009, the volleyball team has returned to the conference tournament twice, both times as the sixth seed in 2010 and 2013.

At 8:52 a.m. on Monday, Smith reached out to the volleyball players via GroupMe, a direct messaging app.

“Way to get after it this morning at S/C! #noexcuses #growingOURgame #daylightsavingstime,” Smith said.

The current players were notified of the coaching change a few minutes before Nutgrass sent out the campus-wide email.

The Simpson volleyball team has struggled to retain players for all of their four years. Former and current players were reached out to, but declined to comment.

A national search is currently underway to find the next head coach. Nutgrass will update the campus community as the search progresses. Tony Sunga was named the interim head coach until the position is filled.