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Sheff out as CSN coach and athletic director

Chris Sheff has been relieved of his duties as head baseball coach and athletic director at the College of Southern Nevada, the school announced Wednesday.

The decision comes in the wake of several allegations against the baseball program at CSN and one day after the school said it was conducting an independent review in response to allegations of irregularities in training and conditioning practices.

"This change in leadership will ensure that CSN's reputation of athletic and academic excellence is maintained," CSN president Michael Richards said in a news release. "We think this is the best decision for all parties involved, most importantly the students on the team."

Richards did not announce who will be the interim coach but did say in the release that he will continue to communicate with the players to ensure a smooth transition.

"I will schedule a meeting with the players as soon as possible so that I may reassure them about the future of the team," Richards said.

Two CSN players said Sheff informed the team before Wednesday's practice that he was asked to resign by the school's administration but refused.

Sheff was hired as baseball coach and athletic director on July 9, replacing Tim Chambers, who left in June to become the baseball coach at UNLV.

Sheff did not return a message left on his cell phone seeking comment.

"We feel the whole thing is premature and unjust," said Wes Johnson, who was one of several players to come out in support of Sheff. "The decision was made off false accusations and by people who no longer are with the program.

"Everybody is unhappy with the decision. We are the program, and (the school) didn't come talk to us to confirm anything or even ask questions. It's not fair, not only to myself but the other young men, to take Coach Sheff and his staff away when we need them most. It's almost like the administration is afraid to have a black eye."

Multiple unnamed sources said players were charged $125 and required to work out with personal trainer Corky Field of Live-In Fitness, which would be a violation of National Junior College Athletic Association rules. Sheff said last week that the workout program was "encouraged" but not mandatory.

Multiple unnamed sources also said players were charged $25 per week for food that was delivered after practice.

Sophomore first baseman Tyler Blair backed Sheff and his staff Wednesday, saying both programs were optional.

"Nobody wants to see Coach leave," Blair said. "As long as we came and let them know what was going on, we had options to choose from. Some chose to work out with Corky, and some chose to eat food. It wasn't mandatory."

Added Johnson: "If working out with Corky Field was mandatory and we had no other options, why are there players working out at different facilities now?"

Sheff and his staff also were accused of being verbally abusive. Multiple unnamed sources said Sheff also disciplined players with excessive running.

Johnson, 25, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, disputed those allegations.

"Verbally berating a player to me is showing an intention to talk down, to (defame) their character," Johnson said. "That never occurred."

Charlie Dunbar, whose son Matt is a pitcher at CSN after spending last season at Cal Poly Pomona, also was disappointed with the school's decision to sever ties with Sheff.

Matt Dunbar is expected to sign a national letter of intent with Arizona State this month, and Charlie Dunbar credited Sheff for his son's improvement on the mound.

"They work hard to develop players not only on the field but off the field," Charlie Dunbar said. "The staff, the school from the academic side, they've done a tremendous job in a short period of time to help Matt move on to a top-five Division I school."

CSN won the 2003 Junior College World Series under Chambers, and the Coyotes gained national attention last season as they advanced to the NJCAA World Series. The team featured freshman sensation Bryce Harper, the top overall pick in June's Major League Baseball draft by the Washington Nationals.

Richards said CSN's independent review of the baseball program would continue.

"I intend to ensure that the team has been and remains in compliance with all National Junior College Athletic Association rules and regulations," he said. "And this review will take place over the coming weeks."

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0294.

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