Southern Illinois University Edwardsville wrestling Coach David Ray announced his resignation on April 12, citing motivation and a desire to spend time with his family.
"My heart changed. I wasn't into it as much as I have been in the past," Ray said.
Senior and former team manager Chase Grafton said the team's complaints to Brad Hewitt, director of intercollegiate athletics, may have played a role in Ray's departure.
"I think he had some pressure from the administration to resign because of the review we had been giving him and the individual meetings we had with the (athletics director)," Grafton said.
Hewitt said the decision to resign was Ray's alone.
"Coach Ray met with me before the season and two months ago he sent me a three- to four-page email with all of the things he's struggling with, like missing time with his kids," Hewitt said. "I told him, 'If you don't have the passion, don't continue to do it. Let's look at other alternatives.'"
Senior Kyle Lowman called Ray disrespectful to the team and said he was not surprised by Ray's resignation.
"We weren't thrilled with him as a coach, and I think he felt that," Lowman said. "We weren't happy with the way he treated the team."
Hewitt said that, because of legal restrictions, he was unable to provide details of discussions with athletes or coaches, but he had addressed every concern of which he was aware.
"Every student-athlete who brought an issue to me left saying they were satisfied with the way I handled the issue," Hewitt said.
The number of issues raised about Ray, Hewitt said, was higher than for some coaches but lower than others. Hewitt said he was disappointed that many wrestlers are coming forward with these complaints.
"They are making statements that they have never made to me," Hewitt said. "When someone recruits you to be a Division I athlete, you have a degree of responsibility to respect that person's position. Whether your relationship was good, bad or indifferent, if someone gave you an opportunity, you have a responsibility to them."
Junior David Devine said Grafton was exaggerating the problem and he does not believe Ray was pressured to resign.
"I can see how people would feel that way, but I think he wanted us to get harder and some people couldn't handle it," Devine said.
Ray has coached for 23 years, the last five as the coach at SIUE. Ray had his most success as the coach of Montana State University-Northern. The Lights had 85 All-Americans and 21 national champions on their roster during Ray's tenure at the NAIA school.
Ray left MSU-Northern in 2005. The Havre Daily News reported at the time that Ray left the school to spend more time with his children. A former Lights' wrestler, Aaron Jensen, discussed Ray's style of discipline.
"It can be hard at times," Jensen said. "But you learn a lot about work ethic, and it doesn't just carry over to the mat, but also in your life outside of wrestling."
Grafton had a different view of Ray's discipline style.
"He wasn't breeding an environment of young men growing to be even better men to go out into society," Grafton said. "Before practice, there would be 10, 15, 20-minute scolding sessions that had nothing to do with practice."
Ray will remain with the program through the end of his contract, which Ray described as "year-to-year."
Hewitt said the athletic department is still determining what position Ray will hold.