Pacelli steps down as coach for family reasons

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Redhawks posted their first winning record since 1997 under Pacelli.

Jay Pacelli regrets that he won't have the opportunity to lead the Southeast Missouri State women's tennis program to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference.

But Pacelli said family takes precedence, which is why he has resigned following three seasons as the Redhawks' coach. Next week will be his last on the job.

Pacelli will soon be moving to Jackson, Miss., to join his wife Katy, who recently began a position as associate director of admissions at Millsaps College.

And, while Pacelli will be getting out of college coaching -- at least for now -- he'll still be involved in tennis as a teaching professional at the Courthouse, a major fitness facility in Jackson, Miss.

"It was really a tough decision and I was seriously giving thought to staying here. I went back and forth on this for days, weeks," Pacelli said. "But family matters are always going to be the most important thing for me. You can't put a price on that.

"Katy is in her second week on the job and just being apart for that long has been tough. We'll miss Southeast and Cape Girardeau a lot, but there are new challenges for both of us. We're going to have a terrific time."

Pacelli said his wife tried hard to land a job in the area after receiving a master's degree this year at Southeast, where she served as a graduate assistant in the athletics academic advising department and helped out in the compliance department.

"She was really frustrated that after six months of trying she couldn't land a position here. She really wanted to stay here," Jay Pacelli said of his wife, a Mississippi native. "But she's very, very happy. She has a lot of ties to Mississippi. She's a Mississippi girl.

"She's got a great opportunity. When things were stalling here, she wound up putting her resume in at a few places in Mississippi."

The 42-year-old Pacelli has led an impressive turnaround of the Southeast program during his first Division I head coaching position.

Pacelli's third Southeast team this year went 12-11 for the program's first winning record since 1997. He improved the Redhawks from one win to six wins to 12 wins during his three seasons.

With no seniors on this year's roster, Pacelli had hoped to help take Southeast even further up the OVC standings next season.

"I really want to thank all the student athletes. Every one of them has been terrific. They're the main reason the tennis program is on the rise," Pacelli said. "I think they'll have a great season next year. I hope they rip up the OVC.

"It's disappointing that I really didn't get to finish what I started, but I think the program is in good hands, and I'm confident they'll bring in a good coach."

Added Pacelli, who said he has not ruled out coaching collegiately in the future, "No regrets. I really appreciate the opportunity Southeast gave me and I'll always have great memories of my time here."

Southeast athletic director Don Kaverman said a search for Pacelli's replacement is already under way.

"We're sad to see him go, but we wish he and his wife well. We understand their situation," Kaverman said. "In the short time he was with us he really elevated our program, and I think that would have continued.

"I think the job we have available now is more attractive thanks to him."

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