Chris Green resigns after 15 seasons with UAA volleyball

Green speaks about his decision to resign and the scheduling conflict with volleyball and the Great Alaska Shootout.

Volleyball coach Chris Green resigns after 15 seasons with UAA. Photo by Skip Hickey.

Chris Green announced his resignation as UAA's head volleyball coach on Nov. 21. Assistant coach Stacey Meisner has been named the interim coach. Green said the scheduling conflict with volleyball and the Great Alaska Shootout was a large factor in his resignation. 

Green's impact on Seawolf volleyball is impossible to miss. He posted a 313-116 record over 15 seasons, including 11 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 13 seasons. The Seawolves made only two tournament appearances in 28 seasons prior to Green's arrival. 

He was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year six times – including this year – and was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II National Coach of the Year in 2016. 

Green also coached nine All-Americans, six GNAC Players of the Year, six GNAC Newcomers of the Year and five GNAC Freshman of the year. 

Green has been a crucial part of Seawolf volleyball and its success. After winning his fourth GNAC title with UAA this year, to advance to the NCAA tournament, the Seawolves lost in the first round against Chaminade. Green said he was not only disappointed with the season's end but also with UAA administration. 

By winning the GNAC title, the Seawolves should have been rewarded home-court advantage. However, the Alaska Airlines Center gym was double booked with both the volleyball games and the Great Alaska Shootout being scheduled that weekend. 

After a four-year hiatus, administration was thrilled to bring the Great Alaska Shootout back. "It's been years in the making of bringing that tournament [the Great Alaska Shootout] back to our campus so we were really excited to bring back that Alaska tradition," said athletics director Ryan Swartwood. 

The Shootout was scheduled in August before the volleyball rankings were released. However, Swartwood said they knew if volleyball won the GNAC title, there would be a scheduling conflict.

After defeating Saint Martin's in three straight frames to secure the No. 1 seed in the West Region, the team rejoiced that they would host the tournament. But Green said he had to tell the team this wasn't the case. 

"It was difficult for the team because I had to let them know on the night that we won the GNAC championship because people were making plans to fly to Alaska," said Green. 

"I just couldn't wait, so the night that we won the GNAC championship, which should have been a night of celebration, ended up being disappointment." 

Green was just as disappointed as his team. Most of all, though, he was frustrated with administration. He said he found out about the scheduling conflict on Sept. 30 and met with Swartwood on Oct. 2 to discuss the conflict. 

"For the event to be scheduled originally on the same date as the West Regional volleyball tournament without me being consulted I think, in looking back, is something that really bothered me," said Green.

"I asked Ryan 'why did you schedule it?' and he goes 'we were taking a chance.' The chance is slim that we are going to host ever because it's tough to be the number one seed in the West Region." 

For Green, the solution was to reschedule the Shootout. However, Swartwood said this wasn't an option. 

"We had conversations about moving the game times back," said Swartwood. "Ultimately, the number of tickets we had out in the community and the resources we had invested from a marketing perspective, moving the Shootout times up in the day was not feasible." 

Green said when Swartwood told him this he didn't understand. "He said that the basketball tournament was inflexible," said Green. "I guess I didn't understand that but I took his word for it."

"You know, that's a long time, that's a month and a half away, so I'm not sure why he was saying it was inflexible. Everything is flexible. I don't understand that."

Swartwood submitted a bid to the NCAA for an exception on match times for West Regionals. Green said he warned Swartwood that the NCAA might decline their bid and suggested they make a backup plan. 

"I strongly suggested several times, four times maybe, that he really needed to have a plan B because if the NCAA didn't accept those time changes that we needed to have another plan to present to the NCAA to make sure that we had two alternatives," said Green.

However, a second plan was never made and the bid was not approved. The NCAA made the decision to hold West Regionals in Bellingham, Washington. 

Green said he thinks losing home court advantage may have cost the team their season. "To be honest with you, I think we could be playing right now in the National Championship," said Green.

"I think, with a home court advantage, our team had a chance to win the West Region. I'm not going to use that as an excuse for why we lost in the first round, but anyone can tell you that home court in front of a home crowd — and our crowd is the best in the country — would have given us an advantage."

Four days after the Seawolves lost against Chaminade, Green submitted his letter of resignation. A few hours later, he met with the team and five recruits that have already signed with UAA to let them know. 

Green said he saw retirement in the near future, but he wasn't planning on retiring this year. "I have been considering retiring or resigning down the road, so this was kind of just the straw [that broke the camel's back]," said Green. "I think what transpired accelerated that time line a little bit."

Though he resigned, he plans to keep supporting UAA volleyball. "I'll go watch them play, for sure. I plan to be a big fan of them next year," said Green.