Webb coached Pappas in college, 2000 Games

Updated: August 18, 2004, 7:02 AM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Reigning world champion decathlete Tom Pappas, who finished a disappointing second at the U.S. Olympic trials, has split with his longtime coach, Bill Webb.

Webb, head track and field coach at the University of Tennessee, coached Pappas for eight years, including his collegiate career and at the 2000 Olympics. Pappas is now working with Brian Brophy and Kip Janvrin, both former decathletes.

Brophy works for the World's Greatest Athlete Decathlon Club, a nonprofit foundation that has training centers around the country and pays Pappas a stipend. Janvrin is head coach at Central Missouri State.

Pappas joined the decathlon club two years ago, and Webb said the club got more involved in his training the past six months. Webb said he stepped aside because too many people were trying to coach Pappas.

"It wasn't really an issue of abandoning somebody,'' Webb said Tuesday. "I think you need one voice when you're involved in coaching an athlete, and it got to be more people involved in the planning.

"I chatted with Tom, and I voluntarily withdrew myself from the process on a day-to-day basis,'' he said. "He agreed with me. It wasn't any kind of falling out. It's just what I think is best.''

Pappas didn't tell Webb that he was bothered by the number of coaches, "but I think I sensed that. At any time it creates confusion or stress if you have a number of people involved,'' Webb said.

Training on the Greek island of Crete, Pappas said the split occurred right after the trials, where he was beaten by the unheralded Bryan Clay. Both are considered medal contenders in Athens when the decathlon competition begins Monday. Pappas finished fifth at the 2000 Olympics.

Pappas, who have no specific reason for leaving his coach, said that after the trials he went to Central Missouri for a week of training with Janvrin "and a lot of good things happened there.''

Under Webb, Tennessee won the NCAA outdoor title in 2001 and placed second in 2002. There are five former Tennessee track athletes competing in the Olympics, including sprinter Justin Gatlin.

Webb said he doesn't believe his coaching absence will affect Pappas:

"There have been other meets that occurred during the collegiate season when I was not available to go, and he went with his group from the WGADC and he did extremely well.''

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press