College of Charleston men's basketball players deserve better
Sunday, August 10, 2014 12:11 AM
In this day and age, especially when player-unionization could be on the horizon in the NCAA, the voice from the collective college athletic body appears to be this: “Don’t intimidate us into winning. Build an atmosphere where we WANT to win.”
There’s a difference between the two. A resounding difference.
And, that’s why the College of Charleston is looking for a men’s basketball coach.
The players obviously did not want to compete for their previous one, Doug Wojcik, whom the Colonial Athletic Association school fired this week amid reported allegations of verbal and physical abuse.
Allegedly, that abuse was directed at more than just the players. Assistant coaches and staff workers also were allegedly caught in verbal crossfire. The college’s investigation process interviewed numerous people, in addition to Wojcik and that included anonymous current/former players and assistant coaches and college employees.
And, after Wojcik’s firing, no one immediately defended him publicly, except for his lawyer. In this age of rampant social media, you would think a player – or anyone else related to the program opposed to his firing -- would have spoken quickly against that, especially on Twitter.
But, there was nothing. In fact, the players collectively issued a press release through the school that they agree with Wojcik’s firing.
The college’s report repeatedly states in this fashion: it’s “likely” Wojcik called a player a homophobic slur and even “likely” made negative comments about a players’ upbringing.
When you “likely” verbally attack anyone’s upbringing, you’re “likely” attacking the core of who that person is.
That can be devastating to an impressionable young adult.
Although Wojcik’s lawyer states the school is simply out to fire him with cause (attempting to avoid paying off the remainder of Wojcik’s contract), the lawyer does state in part of a press release that -- essentially -- Wojcik is sorry for offending or hurting the feelings of anyone associated with CofC men’s basketball.
OK, but why is Wojcik apologizing? Why does he feel he has hurt emotionally or offended anyone? If he did not engage in any of the actions the college’s report he “likely” did, he has no reason to apologize – for anything.
This does not paint a pretty picture of what the atmosphere was like on that team.
Just 16 months ago, another coaching-abuse situation reared its ugly head when nationally broadcast video evidence of Mike Rice berating Rutgers men’s basketball players. On the video, he threw basketballs at them, kicked them and used all kinds of degrading language.
And yes, homophobic slurs.
And yes, Rice also was fired.
First of all, a college coach has no reason to degrade a player, even if that player is falling below a coach’s expectation. After all, didn’t the coach
recruit that player? And, if a coach inherited that player from a previous coaching regime, the coach can simply release that player from scholarship (more often than not, college scholarships are year-to-year).
If a player is not playing at a preferred level, the fault should be directed at no one else but that coach.
Motivation, in a much more constructive manner can be used in other ways, such as the promise that player will ride the bench. Or, that player will lose his/her scholarship.
That’s fair. And legal.
No name-calling. No humiliating. Just lay it out on the line for the player what’s at stake.
Players, more than ever, want to know the coach is on their side. A coach who degrades them is selfish, and won’t have that player’s back down the stretch.
And that leads to players’ lack of trust and passion for their coach.
And, in turn, that results in bad play on the court or field.
The best teams are those with players who would run through a brick wall for their coaches.
Therefore, the College of Charleston’s players deserve better.
When a coach creates an atmosphere like the one Wojcik allegedly did, the only wall players are faced with is a hopeless one that will never be climbed.
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-223-1813; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.