Houston Dash promises 'brighter future' after parting ways with coach

Friday, December 16, 2022
Dash promises 'brighter future' after parting ways with head coach
The Houston Dash team was very remorseful and apologetic to the club's current and former players over a culture of misconduct by its last two coaches. The club's president spoke to ABC13 after a key investigation's findings were released.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nearly eight months after he was suspended, there is now closure involving Houston Dash head coach James Clarkson. The longtime coach is no longer with the team.

A National Women's Soccer League and NWSL Players Association joint investigation revealed Clarkson engaged in emotional misconduct. As a result, the team says it will not renew his contract, which is set to expire at the end of this month.

"There is the ability to move forward, and that's very important for our players," Dash president Jessica O'Neill admitted during a one-on-one Zoom interview with ABC13. "I did have some communication last night with our captains, just to make sure everybody was in a great head space and doing well. And if they're not, we can support them. It is an important step forward for us and the league to be able to have an end to this investigation, which has been going on for 14 months."

In the team's statement, the Dash issued an apology to players - both past and present - who were subject to misconduct by Clarkson and 2018 head coach Vera Pauw.

"It is important to us as an organization that we're authentic and transparent in our communication," O'Neill explained of the club's apology. "So including that is important, because we can't move on if we don't acknowledge what has happened. And what we read in the report to us signified the need to apologize."

On the heels of a season which saw the team, the lone NWSL club in Texas, reach the playoffs for the first time ever, the Dash vow to work jointly with its players, staff, fans and partners towards a "brighter future."

"We believe wholeheartedly that the only way that we can attract and retain the best talent in the world, which is our mission, is to have and maintain a culture of excellence. What's unique about when we say the 'best talent in the world' is that it immediately screams players. And, yes, we do want the best players in the world. We have a lot of them on our roster right now, but the other piece is the staff. In every single position, to have a culture of excellence, you need the best person you possibly have in every single facet," O'Neill said.

Last season, after suspending Clarkson, the Dash employed an active head coach followed by an interim head coach. O'Neill says the goal was to announce a permanent head coach for the club by the end of the year, and the team is on track to do so.

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