Wine & Whining at Lindenwood U.
"After the meet," recalls team member Addison Bain, 19, "she took us to a pub. She ordered four pitchers of beer and bought a shot of Jägermeister for one of the athletes."
Bain claims his coach was intoxicated. "She started putting us down and told us we needed to step-up with the training. She called us 'King Shit.' [Kilmurray] argued with her and said we're not King Shit. [Murphy] drove back to the hotel, locked her door and we didn't see her till the next morning."
It only escalated from there. After the next meet against Notre Dame, Kilmurray accused Murphy of drinking too much. Murphy accused Kilmurray of insubordination and kicked him off the team. Kilmurray complained to the Lindenwood administration. The administration is standing firmly behind the coach.
"The only factual part of this is that at dinner with the team, [Murphy] had wine," says John Creer, Lindenwood's athletic director. "This is not acceptable behavior. Coaches are not above athletes. The same rules apply. That has been dealt with."
Lindenwood, a private university in St. Charles, has a strict policy against students drinking on campus or during campus activities. Last April several members of the skeet shooting team had a drunken victory celebration aboard a team bus, on the way back from a competition in San Antonio.
That night, upon their return, an inebriated team member crashed a pickup truck into an empty house in St. Charles. In response, the administration canceled the remainder of the shooting season and fired the two coaches.
This is Lindenwood cycling's inaugural season. Last summer the university recruited fifteen cyclists, including Kilmurray, a racing champion in his native Australia, who previously rode for Marian College in Indiana. Kilmurray persuaded three other Australians to join him in St. Charles.
Murphy, who owns Mesa Cycles in Maplewood, and also coaches Mesa's junior/under-23 racing team, took over the Lindenwood team in January after the former coach, Darren Marhanka, resigned.
On his personal blog, Kilmurray admits to a fondness for red wine and to toasting his recent 22nd birthday with a dozen shots. "My main problem," he says, "is with the coach drinking and driving with students I helped recruit."
The coach's main problem is with Kilmurray's temper. "He was insubordinate," says Murphy. "My assistant coach agreed. [Kilmurray] was slightly psychotic."
"The whole thing is crazy," says Carol Pollnow, who calls herself Kilmurray's "American mom" and has been petitioning the administration on Kilmurray's behalf. She says Kilmurray's suspension from the team could jeopardize his future plans to race professionally. Kilmurray adds that he stands to lose his athletic scholarship.
The administration has little sympathy. "If this guy had handled himself in a respectful manner," says Scott Queen, spokesman for Lindenwood. "He would be on the team now."