Thursday, April 26, 2007

With Role Models like these. . .

. . . it is no wonder that there are so many misbehaving NCAA athletes.

If Mark Fox of Nevada established anything at the end of the Basketball season this year, it is that he cannot handle losing. On March 1, after a call went against one of his players late in the second half in an overtime loss against New Mexico State, he charged onto the court, bumped an official, and had to be restrained by one of his assistants. Little more than a week later, Nevada once again lost to New Mexico State, this time in the semifinals of the WAC tournament. After the game, Fox chased down the game officials, launched into a profanity-laced tirade, and had to be restrained by a police officer. The following are some selections from the police report:

I heard a male voice using loud, boisterous, and profane language toward the officials. I looked back and saw that it was the coach from Nevada whom I know as Mr. Fox. As Mr. Fox continued to curse and be abusive toward the officials he continued to close distance. . . Mr. Fox was about two feet away and I slowed down and put my hand out across his chest to prevent him from getting any closer to the official. Mr. Fox raised his voice and said, "Don't put your ****ing hands on me". I told Mr. Fox to back off. . .

While waiting for my supervisor I spoke with Joe from the Special Event staff. . . He further said that that as Mr. Fox climbed the stairs he continued to curse and yell at the official climbing as fast as he could. . .

I met with Amanda Bowen, Mr. Herb Taylor, and a gentlemen identified to me as the Western Athletic League Commisioner. I explained what had happened to all of them and also that I was considering arresting Mr. Fox and charging him with Assault on a Peace Officer and another single count of Assault on the official. After discussing the matter I chose to allow the Commissioner to handle the situation internally. I did request that Mr. Fox apologize to the officials for his behavior which amounted to a criminal level.

The Commissioner has now proceeded to ‘handle the situation internally’, and it should come as no great shock that on Tuesday Fox was merely issued a reprimand, and forced to issue an apology by the Western Athletic Conference.

Todd Bozeman is obviously another fine role model. His past misconduct as a coach at California, including payments to a players’ family, resulted in an eight year show-cause ban from NCAA coaching, but this did not stop Morgan State from snatching him up last year. On February 3, Morgan State traveled to Longwood University, a school still going through the DII to DI transition, and blew a ten point lead, losing on a buzzer-beating shot. This incident followed, resulting from botched order of sandwiches from Mulligan’s, a local restaurant:

Police were called to Mulligan's restaurant near the Longwood campus to handle the resulting uproar, and a restaurant employee swore out a warrant against Bozeman alleging misdemeanor assault. "The coach . . . just went belligerent, screaming that he didn't want ham sandwiches," the manager of Mulligan's, Carlos Holland, said last night. "He put his hands on one of our managers . . . just grabbed her and shook her."

Holland said an assistant coach for the Morgan State team had ordered 52 sandwiches, requesting Philly steak or chicken. Holland explained that they couldn't handle 52 Philly steak sandwiches but could put together a variety of sandwiches, and the assistant coach told him to do what he could. When Bozeman arrived to pick up the sandwiches, he was apparently angry about the selection of ham and turkey sandwiches, Holland said. "He yelled, 'I ain't scared of you country bumpkins. I want my **** money back!'"

Shortly afterwards, Bozeman surrendered to authorities in Farmville Virginia, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault, and ordered to appear in court on April 24. On Tuesday, the charges against Bozeman were dropped, in exchange for an in-court apology, and an undisclosed financial payment made to Stephanie J. Schreck, the employee he assaulted:

"From the get-go, all we wanted from Mr. Bozeman was an apology," said Matt Hurley, the owner of Mulligan's. "We did not need to be in court. Everybody has jobs. We'd all rather be somewhere else." . . .

"The settlement reached was between her [Schreck] and the defendant," Ennis said. "We do not take a role in that. She has an option to enter into that agreement.

"On the basis of that settlement, we are asked to dismiss the criminal charges. In my 32 years, I can never recall a case where the court refused to do that. It [a settlement] is certainly not an unanticipated event on our part."

Ennis said that the amount of the settlement is not part of the public record.

Bozeman’s misbehavior is, of course, no great matter to Morgan State:

Morgan State spokesman Clint Coleman said: "We are pleased that this matter has finally been put to rest. We believe it was a matter of a terrible misunderstanding."

So, how many ‘terrible misunderstandings’ have you been involved in which ended in your hands around someone’s neck?

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