Head baseball coach Rob Penders leaves St. Edward’s University


Nina Martinez/ Hilltop Views

Penders head-coached at St. Edward’s University for 15 years. The Hilltoppers began their 2021-22 season on Feb. 4 at home against Eastern New Mexico.

On December 3 at 10:08 a.m., President Fuentes released a statement informing the St. Edward’s community of a change in leadership within the St. Edward’s Men’s Baseball team. The email stated, “Effective immediately, Rob Penders will conclude his tenure as head baseball coach at St. Edward’s University.”

Penders’ departure comes after a private investigation into his conduct while at the university conducted by an external firm. On Oct. 5, Fuentes shared an email with the community affirming her “steadfast commitment” to diversity, equity and inclusion, specifically in university athletics. She then shared the multiple efforts in progress to improve DEI work in athletics. This included the appointment of Erica Zamora as NCAA Athletic Diversity and Inclusion designee and support for the Black Student-Athlete and Allies Committee, founded in 2020. In October 2021, Lisa Kirkpatrick, the vice president of student affairs, told Hilltop Views the that the findings from the investigation did not support termination.

After the Oct. 5th email was sent to students, an anonymous person created a petition to “Remove Coach Penders of St. Edward’s University for Racist Comments and Discrimination.” The petition has 605 signatures. After the petition gained student support, a protest was hosted pushing for a “Better SEU.”

This announcement comes less than two months from the team’s first game of the 2021-22 season on Feb. 4. The baseball team finished the 2020-21 season with an overall record of 17-23 and a conference record of 14-18.

Penders began his career as head coach of the SEU men’s baseball team in 2006. In his 15 years on the hilltop, his overall record totaled 507-276. Before arriving at St. Edward’s, Penders served as the University of Texas’ men’s baseball volunteer assistant coach from 1999-2000 and for the 2006 baseball season.

Hilltop Views continues to conduct further research and interviews with stakeholders, students and those directly affected by Penders’ actions. If you would like to provide further insight or information, email us at [email protected]

Update: On Dec. 4, Gwen Schuler, the director of communications for the university, said, “The university’s decision to separate from Coach Penders was not based upon either the complaint addressed in the President’s email of October 5th or the related online petition. The decision involved new and unrelated information.” Schuler said she was unable to provide any additional information.