College-level athletics in sorry state due to various coaching scandals

Mitch Sundquist, Staff Writer

Anyone who’s been involved in a sport at a highly competitive level knows coaches love to yell.
They yell to motivate, to encourage and just because they can.
However, with the recent developments of the investigation on Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, we’re seeing a different trend in the way a small portion of coaches choose to yell at their players.
They yell to humiliate, to belittle and to cause their players emotional harm.
In case you haven’t heard of the situation at Rutgers University, Eric Murdock, the assistant coach for the men’s basketball team, released videos that contained tape of basketball practices over the past couple years.
What the videos showed was shocking.
They showed head coach Mike Rice hurling basketballs at players, sometimes at their heads.
They showed Rice kicking and punching players as hard as he could.
They showed Rice yelling homosexual slurs at players and verbally humiliating them.
Sadly, this isn’t even the first time accusations of Rice’s mistreatment of players have arisen.
In December of 2012, Rice was suspended three games and fined $50K for violation of athletic department policy. The school announced the decision was related to inappropriate behavior and language. Rice was also ordered to attend anger management classes.
Apparently, the recent release of the tapes was enough for the university to fire Rice — although that should have happened at the first sign of the abuse.
The most disappointing part of this story is that this is just the latest in a trend of coaches being accused and found guilty of the mistreatment of players.
On Nov. 21, 2012, Morehead State head coach Sean Woods was suspended one game for his tirade against player Devon Atkinson during a game at Kentucky. Woods appeared to shove Atkinson in the back as he walked towards the bench after fouling out. Woods then continued to embarrass the player by yelling at him on the bench, inches away from his face, causing Atkinson to become visibly distraught.
Last year, Texas Tech University men’s head basketball coach Billy Gillispie resigned due to what he called “medical reasons.” It was later discovered that Gillispie had mistreated players in a multitude of ways while at Texas Tech. According to, Gillispie had “kept players in scholarship limbo, forcing them to miss out on opportunities and money, and also practiced injured players so severely that they openly wept in practice.”
Another incident occurred at Texas Tech in 2009, this time involving the football program. Head coach Mike Leach was accused of isolating player Adam James because he refused to practice after being diagnosed with a concussion. According to the report by ESPN, a source close to the family said that Leach ordered a trainer to move James “to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean.” He was kept in the closet for three hours.
Another incident hit close to home for you Kansas fans. University of Kansas Head football coach Mark Mangino resigned after the 2009 season amidst allegations of verbal and physical abuse of his players. According to a report by ESPN, several former players came forward and said the Mangino would use personal information in his verbal attacks on players. A specific incident including Mangino yelling to a player that if he didn’t shut up, he was “going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies.”
If you’re not disgusted and appalled by all of these stories, I don’t know how you can call yourself a human being.
For a grown man, a man these players are supposed to be able to look up to, to be able to put his hands on a player or publicly humiliate him is sickening.
If a coach can’t do his or her job without harming his players, he or she clearly doesn’t deserve to hold that job.
Even though it’s the coach who is doing the damage, the universities and colleges involved should take full responsibility for what happened to their athletes. They need to become more involved with their teams, especially during practices.
If that means hiring a person to sit in on practices and observe the coach’s conduct, then so be it.
But this kind of treatment of athletes needs to stop immediately, before something tragic happens.