Mennig reapplies for STM job
CHAMPAIGN — Chris Mennig hopes the former St. Thomas More girls’ basketball coach will be the school’s next coach.
In a Tuesday email sent to past and current players and their families — a document forwarded to The News-Gazette — Mennig confirmed he has reapplied for the position.
“I have formally submitted my application to principal Ryan Bustle, athletic director Dan Hennessey and Father Lampitt on Friday,” he wrote. “At the time I was released, the Diocese reportedly stated that ‘if it is all just smoke, we will talk to him’ about reinstatement. We reached out last week and had a positive connection with the Diocese about the situation and learned that they will be listening to Ryan/Dan’s feedback on this situation.”
Mennig sent the email even though he noted, “As you can imagine, my attorneys would prefer I speak about this as little as possible. However, I want you to know a few things.”
Mennig, who has not spoken publicly since STM severed ties with him last month, provided insight into a federal investigation.
“This investigation is nothing new,” Mennig wrote in the email. “It started before my going out to Arizona State back in 2011 (on a one-year leave of absence), and the Diocese was aware of this investigation at that point in time. They also were aware then and remain aware now that this investigation has absolutely nothing to do with St. Thomas More, our program, players, etc.
“This is a financial-based investigation. I sent some cash back home with my parents when they were flying home to NY, and when authorities discovered they had the cash, it caused an inquiry. This is what initially triggered the investigation. The FBI was involved, and no one seemed to believe that girls’ basketball could or should be generating significant amounts of revenue.
“After they finally realized the legitimate source of the revenues, the investigation shifted to an IRS inquiry for the past couple of years. As they looked into the purchase of my home, they also saw cash being used for the purchase and that raised additional questions, apparently because they were unaware that money had been gifted to me from my boss (from Blue Star).”
During his recent weeks of silence, Mennig said he was touched by the amount of support he received, both from within and outside of the STM community.
“The slew of heart felt emails, texts, calls over the past month have been incredibly touching,” he wrote. “Means more than you all know. So many alumni have texted me stories of growth, and thanks. I have had the support of the college coaching community, as well as those in strong powers of influence in the grassroots community (AAU, ESPN, etc.) so I’m hopeful that those sitting in the decision-making seats allow us to keep making memories for future female student-athletes, and to keep developing strong character in them.
“I personally have no ill will to the Diocese or St. Thomas More, as I believe their instincts are to protect the students/families/church. But, hopefully, we are now in a position to move forward in a positive fashion. My hope is that after reflection on all of the facts, we can continue on our journey together and put the ‘train back on the tracks.’”
When reached by phone Wednesday night, Mennig declined to elaborate but confirmed the contents of the email were sent by him and were not a hoax.
Mennig’s last two STM teams won 65 of 70 games and reached the Class 2A state championship game in back-to-back years, winning the title in March. He was first hired to coach at St. Thomas More in 2005. In 22 years of coaching, Mennig has been on the sidelines for 595 games.