Bob Waters, who for the last five years has been fighting the effects of a degenerative nerve disorder known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was fired Wednesday after 20 years as football coach at Western Carolina.
“I am extremely disappointed that I will not be allowed to coach the 1989 football team,” said Waters, who is confined to a wheelchair and requires a portable respirator to assist him in breathing. “The decision should have been left to me, whether I could coach or not. What can be gained by my remaining as head coach for the 1989 season far outweighs what we will lose.”
Steve White, the school’s sports information director, said Waters was not fired, “he’s being reassigned to other duties. I understand that he will remain on for another couple of weeks as head football coach, then he’ll officially be reassigned,” White said.
White said Waters was informed of the reassignment Wednesday.
“He either accepted it or was told that this was what’s going to be,” White said. “Whether or not he accepts it, I don’t think he has any choice.”
In 20 seasons, Waters’ teams were 116-94-6, although the 1988 club was 2-9, Waters’ worst record.
“There’s been a steady deterioration,” White said of Waters’ battle with the disease. " . . . He has to have someone with him all the time. He has no use of his arms and legs.”