New details emerge in EWU volleyball coaches firing

Former head coach Michael King secretly gave a player $300 in March, according to university investigation


Michael King, former EWU head volleyball coach, addresses the team at a home match last season. King, along with assistant coach Nathan Fristed, was dismissed on March 27 following a university investigation | Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

By Michael Brock, Sports Editor

On March 27, EWU volleyball coaches Michael King and Nathan Fristed were relieved of their duties by then-interim athletic director Lynn Hickey. Hickey, who has since been promoted to the permanent director of athletics role, wouldn’t elaborate on the situation at the time, calling it a “university personnel matter.”

However, according to EWU records (which The Easterner obtained from the university), the dismissals occurred one week after the completion of an investigation into the alleged payment of $300 to a member of the volleyball team.

The student-athlete, who is a freshman at EWU, was not identified in the records.

Per her statement in the investigative report, the player went to then-head volleyball coach Michael King’s office on March 1, 2018, to discuss payment for a camp she had worked during the summer of 2017. King and Fristed were both present for the meeting.

“The only way I can pay you now is if you just found money,” King said, according to the student’s statement in the report.

King and the player then walked out to King’s car, where he retrieved the cash. Upon return, King placed $300 on his desk and announced he was going to the bathroom. Fristed departed the room as well, to his office. The student-athlete, who was left alone with the money, took it.

Soon after, the player was advised by then-assistant coach Diana Villalpando to turn in the money, which she did.

According to the student-athlete’s statement given to Jeff Lamoureaux, EWU senior investigator and Title IX coordinator, all members of the volleyball team worked a summer camp from July to August 2017 in Cheney.

King told the team that there was a $300 room and board fee for each player during the camp, but that they would be reimbursed later on. However, when other team members began receiving their checks in September 2017, the student-athlete approached King to discuss the payment. Citing an error in finalizing paperwork, King said he would figure it out.

During the March 1 meeting, King initially told the athlete that the only way she could be paid “legally” is if they overpaid for her work at a camp in the future. The player explained she wanted the payment earlier, to aid in family expenses. That’s when King allegedly told her that the only way is if she “just found money.”

According to the report, King acknowledged that he placed the money on the desk and walked out of the office with Fristed. However, King said that he didn’t believe the student-athlete would actually take the cash, rather he was trying to “appease” her and show that she would certainly get paid for the next camp. Fristed denied seeing King place the money on the table.

When King noticed the money was missing, he reached out to the player to ask for it back, according to his statement. In his report, Lamoureaux said that the timing of some of King’s actions were “suspect.”

“King’s actions would suggest he was reacting to everything that was occurring in an attempt to cover up what happened instead of simply reporting the circumstances to a sports administrator,” Lamoureaux concluded in the report.

The Easterner will continue to report on this story as details unfold.