AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Michael Center has been dismissed as the head men’s tennis coach atf the University of Texas at Austin. The dismissal is effective immediately and Associate Head Coach Bruce Berque will continue as the Longhorns’ interim head coach, according to UT Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte.
All other members of the UT Men’s Tennis staff will remain in place, as well.
“After working with campus leaders to review the recent situation with Michael Center, we have decided to relieve him of his duties as our Men’s Tennis coach,” Del Conte said. “It’s a very difficult decision, and we are grateful for the years of service that he has provided, but winning with integrity will always be paramount at The University of Texas, and it was a decision that had to be made."
A criminal complaint released Tuesday charges Center with "Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud" and "Honest Services Mail Fraud." According to a 'cooperating witness' in the investigation, in 2015 Center agreed to accept approximately $100,000 from the witness as a bribe. In exchange, Center would designate an applying student from California as a recruit to the UT Tennis team.
“I’ve met with our team and assured them that we will do everything in our power to support them,” Del Conte added. “I also plan to reach out to all of our commitments, signees and their families immediately. I’m grateful for Coach Berque’s leadership during this challenging time. Our team is in the middle of a tremendous season, and I applaud them for how they’ve handled this situation, especially the way they responded in their match on Tuesday.”
Berque is in his fifth season at Texas and his fourth season as associate head coach. He helped lead the Longhorns to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2017 and the NCAA round of 16 in 2016 and 2018.