May 05, 2003

Price and Eustachy

Mike Price and Larry Eustachy, two major college coaches were fired this week for moral misconduct, for lack of a better description. In the case of Mike Price, who had yet to coach a football game at Alabama, the school decided that having a night out at a topless bar was a firing offense. Well, there's more than that. Strong indications are that one of the bar "dancers" may have spent the night in Price's room, since the next morning she ordered one of everything from the room service menu, to the tune of a $1000 tab charged to Price's room bill. So in the best light it's a bawdy night out, at worst, an adulterous one night stand.

Eustachy's conduct was somewhat tamer, it seems. The head basketball coach at Iowa State was photographed drinking and partying with students, and when confronted, admitted to being an alcoholic. Eustachy said he was going to seek treatment on the same day the President of the University recommended his firing. There was also a separate allegation that a couple of players had been slipped a twenty dollar bill for making a free throw, at one time or another.

Both coaches had recently agreed to multi-million dollar contracts, although Price had agreed in principle but had not yet actually signed his $8 million deal, making it much easier for Alabama to fire him. Price may try to sue, possibly with an eye to improve his final financial settlement. Eustachy "settled " today with Iowa State officials for just a bit less than a million dollars, and seems ready to now just move on to whatever one does with a million dollars. I do hope he starts with alcohol treatment.

What happened is real world stuff. Two college Presidents and their trustees and their administrations decided that these two guys, despite their considerable coaching abilities, their charisma, their good intentions, and their golden parachutes, simply had to go. For the good of the "program", the institution, yada, yada.

It occurs to me that Price might have tried this defense:

Sure he was a public official, entrusted with leadership responsibilities, expected to be an "example" and a man of good character. But this conduct seems to have been pretty much playful good fun. Nobody got hurt. No crimes were committed. It was personal conduct, and was about sex. There's no indication that this conduct would prevent him from being a successful football coach, so his ability to do his job is not necessarily affected. Enemies of his probably took the photos and were conspiring to get him fired. We're not even sure if he took an immoral act "to completion". (Is there a dress?) And finally, this behavior, while regrettable, and quite possibly even "wrong", does not rise to the level that would merit his removal from the position.

You take Price's conduct, multiply it by three times on the seriousness index, throw in a gross sexual imposition, another non-consensual sexual molestation, add two felonies for perjury for lying to a grand jury, and you have what we let Bill Clinton off the hook for. Our Senate said, effectively, "That's okay.....You can stay on as the Head Coach...I mean President."

Alabama and Iowa State just couldn't "move on" with Price and Eustachy still in their jobs. The two were shamed, and told that they could no longer represent the universities that had employed them.

You'd think that journalists everywhere would be sticking up for these guys. I haven't seen any so far. Is Sidney Blumenthal working?

Posted by dan at May 5, 2003 10:22 PM
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