JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University’s director of cross country and track and field is stepping down from his position, athletic director Alex Ricker-Gilbert said in a message Saturday.
The message, which was shared with the athletics community and posted on judolphins.com, states that Ron Grigg is no longer an employee of JU.
According to Grigg’s bio on judolphins.com, Grigg became the director of cross country and track and field in 2002 after serving as the associate head coach under the former head coach for a year. He first arrived at Jacksonville in 1998 before working as an assistant coach at Kansas State from 1999 to 2001. The bio describes him as “one of the most successful and longest-tenured coaches in the country.”
“We believe, and Coach Grigg agrees, that this is the best path forward for our current and future student-athletes and their success. We will name an interim head coach in the coming days,” Ricker-Gilbert said. “As Athletic Director, my goal is to cultivate a healthy, positive environment where our student-athletes can grow and succeed in all areas of life. I’m writing today to share some updates on how Jacksonville University Athletics is responding.”
The message comes after, Ricker-Gilbert wrote, “some very concerning information” had been posted online over the last few days about the personal experiences of some of the university’s student-athletes.
“The posts and comments have been difficult to read, and they have deeply impacted me and our Dolphin family,” Ricker-Gilbert wrote.
Ricker-Gilbert went on to say that a student made claims in fall 2021, and the university started an investigation into the allegations within 48 hours of receiving them. According to Ricker-Gilbert, the investigation included meeting with current and former teammates, university employees, administrators, advisors, and coaches. Ricker-Gilbert’s message did not specifically say what the claims were about.
Less than two weeks into the investigation, according to Ricker-Gilbert, the student died.
“We then engaged an outside, independent investigator to ensure an unbiased, thorough review,” Ricker-Gilbert wrote. “Separately, Jacksonville University Athletics has tasked an outside firm to immediately review the new information and allegations that have been shared in recent days about the experiences of other student athletes. We take these reports very seriously, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this information receives the time and attention that it deserves.
“In addition, this outside firm will perform an audit of our athletic department’s policies, reporting mechanisms, and responsive actions in an effort to strengthen and improve them. This audit will include interviews of current and former students to encourage candid feedback and will assist us with identifying and developing outstanding resources that address areas where we as a University can improve. Our goal is to create a safe and supportive environment for our student athletes and coaches to share their concerns. This audit has already commenced.”
Ricker-Gilbert also noted that all of the coaches and staff will complete additional mandatory training involving mental health and other issues.
The athletic director said in the message that these are just the first steps, and he also included information for resources available on campus:
Student Counseling Center
Student Health Center
Student Success Center