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Volume 68, Issue 150, Monday, June 23, 2003 


College coaches living above the law

Recent scandals deface profession

Cougar Pause

Tom Carpenter

During his tour at UH, Kim Helton often behaved obnoxiously toward his subordinates and his diatribes aimed at the media were spiced with an arrogance that is seldom witnessed in a college coach.

Dana Dimel, on the other hand, came to Houston with an easy-going attitude and then mellowed even more as his girth expanded and the losses piled up during his three years at Cougarville. 

Unfortunately for Dimel and UH, his appetite to win seemed to be the only element of Dimelis hunger that went on a diet. 

Between the two coaches, UH enjoyed two winning seasons in 10 years.

But, as poorly productive as the two coachesi teams were on the football field, both men did possess character (and believe me, that word gets a lot of leeway in sports) and a code of ethics that kept them out of trouble with the law and the NCAA.

While many couch potato students of human behavior support the theory that college coaches and athletes represent a microcosm of society, I say, "No, they donit. Not anymore, if, indeed, they ever did."

The pendulum has swung dramatically in recent years, elevating college coaches from anonymity into the airy heights of celebrities who make millions of dollars a year. Much to the chagrin of a number of coaches lately, with celebrity status comes scrutiny. 

Like Argos Panoptes, the media is a hundred-eyed giant that watches every move the college coaches and players make while they claim the limelight on the stage of college sports. 

Sports photographers and media outlets have evolved into a branch of the paparazzi, capturing coaches and players in embarrassing circumstances, like former Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy drinking and cavorting with students and trying to pick up college coeds.

Sometimes that captured flash of stardom can be expensive.

Eustachy resigned his job, but rode off with $960,000 settlement. 

Mike Price didnit have time to sign the $10 million contract Alabama offered him to coach the Crimson Tide before he was dismissed for his behavior during a golfing trip to Florida.

In his defense, Price claimed he was too drunk to remember what happened at a Pensacola topless bar or in his hotel room with three women. (And I always heard that the memory was the second thing that went when old age began to creep up on you. Price could possibly make a lucrative living doing Viagra commercials if his coaching career is over.)

Priceis antics make former UH head football coach John Jenkins look like a pantywaist in comparison. 

Jenkins lost his job at UH in 1992 when he was caught splicing photos of naked women into the football teamis films to keep his players interest from wandering.

But as titillating as Price and Eustachyis foolishness appears in the press, the real problem with the celebrity status of coaches is personified in Rick Neuheisel, the Washington coach who was dismissed for betting thousands of dollars on the past two NCAA basketball tournaments.

Neuheisel refuses to admit he did anything wrong, even though he knew coaches are not allowed to gamble under NCAA rules.

Neuheisel bolted from Colorado to Washington before the NCAA leveled sanctions against the school for 51 infractions committed during his time at Colorado.

Recently Neuheisel lied to the UW president when he said he wasnit a candidate for a job with the San Francisco 49ers, even though a reporter heard him discussing the job on the telephone. 

His accumulation of infractions at two schools and his lack of a moral compass make Neuheisel the poster boy for all thatis wrong in college sports.

The "Iim above the law" attitude that college and professional athletes have embraced for decades finally filtered into the ranks of the coaches. 

Ronald Reaganis "Trickle Down Theory" finally showed results.

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