Contact CU Independent Sports writer Olivia Butrymovich at firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Kritza was dismissed as head coach of the University of Colorado’s volleyball team earlier this month. This came as a surprise to many, including myself, after her team put up an impressive season under her tutelage. Despite a 19-13 record and an 11-9 Pac-12 record this season, Kritza was released from her coaching duties less than a week after the Buffs were shutout of the NCAA tournament.
Kritza’s firing is the first head coaching staff change that athletic director Rick George has made since his hiring in August of 2013. It was stated in a statement released by the CU Administration that there was disagreement between Kritza and the athletic department on the direction of the team.
I am not in a position to argue whether or not Kritza should or should not have been fired. I can say with certainty that the statistics of her coaching career at CU prove her success at the helm.
In her seven seasons as head coach of the Buffs, Kritza recorded a 90-125 overall record. She took the Buffs from a 7-22 record her first year of coaching, to a 20-14 season this year. With Kritza leading the way as coach, the Buffs transitioned from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, the most difficult conference in the country, and have adjusted quite nicely over the past few years.
Kritza led the team to back to back appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Buffs reached the tournament in 2013, seven years after their last showing, as well as in 2014. Colorado reached the second round in both appearances before being eliminated. The 2014 season proved to be one of the best in years for CU. The Buffs reached No.18 in the rankings, their highest since 1999.
The Buffs, who have been growing steadily in performance since Liz Kritza took over as head coach, put up another productive season this year. After finishing fifth in the Pac-12, the Buffs were the only winning team in the conference to be left out of the tournament. This was a controversial decision by the NCAA. Colorado had beaten Florida State, Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State and Stanford during the regular season. The Buffs defeated each of these teams while they were still ranked and all of these teams were invited to the tournament. Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State finished in sixth, seventh and eighth place respectively in the Pac-12 behind Colorado.
Although Kritza’s final season may not have turned out the results the CU community wanted, it is not fair to say that her record or the team’s performance was a reason for her termination. When it comes down to it, the employee and the employer didn’t see eye to eye on certain aspects of the team. It is my opinion that if the players and those associated with the team did not agree on the specific terms, then those in charge have caused enough to make a change.
In my experience reporting on the team, Kritza always spoke very highly of her team, not just as players, but as leaders. I do not know the insider details on how those on her team felt about her, but Kritza made it apparent that she cared for the work and effort her girls put into making the Buffs a top team.
Kritza clearly was an effective coach and was capable of attracting superstar talent to Colorado. Without a clear understanding of the inner workings of Kritza’s firing, I can only say that if Rick George saw a strong enough reason to fire her, then clearly her dismissal was the most appropriate decision to help the program move forward.