By John Manuel
October 3, 2001
Michigan’s Geoff Zahn, the former big league lefty who won 111 games in his 13-year career, appears to be on his way out in Ann Arbor.
While the university officially has no comment on the situation, the Ann Arbor News reported in Wednesday’s edition that Zahn did not report to practice Tuesday and had cleaned out his office. A source told Baseball America that the team had been informed of Zahn’s removal as coach during a meeting, and that a new interim coach was to be installed Wednesday.
That most likely could be assistant Chris Harrison, who was out of town Tuesday on a personal matter and was expected to return Wednesday. Assistant coaches Steve Foster and Steve Merriman directed the team during Tuesday’s practice.
According to the News, players arriving at Ray Fisher Stadium for practice Tuesday were instead greeted by administrators, who told the players there were issues being resolved between Zahn and the university.
“We’re still in the process of finding out what’s happening,” junior Nate Wright told the News. “It’s really between coach Zahn and the athletic department.”
Zahn’s voice mail at his university office includes only a message saying, “This is Geoff Zahn. I’m sorry I’m not available, but you need to talk to Evelyn (Mullreed, the baseball secretary).”
Sports information director Bruce Madej said the university had no news to release and no comment on the matter.
Zahn has directed the Wolverines to a 162-168-2 record in six seasons, including 28-28 last year (10-14 in the Big 10 Conference). According to the News, athletic director Bill Martin had disciplined Zahn in June 2000 for what Martin called “style and communication issues” with his players.
Two issues might have brought about the current situation. Zahn refused to grant releases to pitchers Jim Brauer and Rich Hill, who both wanted to transfer after their performances in the Cape Cod League this summer. Brauer, a rising sophomore, went 2-3, 1.84 for Yarmouth-Dennis with 41 strikeouts in 49 innings. Hill, a seventh-round pick of the Angels as a draft-eligible sophomore, went 1-2, 1.91 and had 46 strikeouts and 25 walks in 33 innings for Chatham.
Both pitchers were going through an appeals process through the university to obtain their releases and possibly transfer at the end of the fall semester.
Second, Zahn and Foster, the pitching coach, had a falling out that led to Foster resigning on Friday. “It was hurting a lot of people to see him go,” senior Bobby Korecky told the News on Tuesday.
Foster’s presence at Tuesday’s practice apparently means his resignation wasn’t accepted.