Veteran Missouri softball coach fired

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri has fired longtime softball coach Ehren Earleywine, with athletic director Jim Sterk saying the university has lost confidence in his ability to foster a "healthy environment" for players.

The firing, announced by Sterk on Friday, occurred less than two weeks before the season-opener against San Jose State in Tempe, Arizona, on Feb. 8.

The university says in a news release that an interim coach is expected to be appointed next week.

There were no working phone numbers for Earleywine, who could not be reached for comment.

The university investigated Earleywine in 2016 for alleged verbal abuse of players. He was allowed to keep his job. Sterk was hired later that year and says the decision to fire him was "based upon a culmination of leadership concerns."