It's actually been a while since I wrote that story about the women's basketball program. Almost an entire year to be exact.
I haven't really taken a moment to ever really reflect on that whole debacle since it happened over the course of the season and eventually peaked after the Salukis lost in the second round of the Missouri Valley Conference season.
At the time, rumors had been swirling on message boards, sources were emailing me anonymous horror stories and the entire department was as tight lipped as you would imagine.
I didn't know what to make of them immediately because it was my second year covering the team and I knew what a fiery personality the coach had. To be honest, to this day I never really had a problem with what went on and I told her that (Although I'm sure she still wanted to rip my head off anyway...figuratively of course).
For the most part while I was reading these emails I was thinking, "boo hoo". These people get their education paid for and you had to have known you were going to deal with a screamer when you signed with the program. My other thought was, if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen.
And get out of the kitchen most of the team did.
To be honest, other than maybe one or two players I didn't see SIU losing a whole lot with the defections other than garnering a whole dumptruck full of bad PR.
But the whole situation was too much to ignore when, on senior night, a few of the assistant coaches and the head coach were absent from the festivities. The coaching staff blamed it on confusion but something didn't seem right.
It was almost spring break at the time of that game so I followed the team to Illinois State to get a jump start on my drive home. The Redbirds were the top team in the MVC at the time and I figured the Salukis would get smoked for the upteenth time but SIU won in dramatic fashion and for one night everyone seemed happy again.
Anyone familiar with the situation knows how the story played out but it reminds me now why I just can't like college sports the way I used to.
Everything is behind closed doors in a college environment. There isn't a single "clean" coach out there in my opinion and you can check into it. Everyone bends the rules to some extent, then there are the boosters and so on. It's just a messy system in general.
There are defections in every program in any sports setting be it free agency, personal reasons or otherwise.
The thing I noticed in the pro environment is that the players are so much more up front about it. If they don't like the situation, they come out and say it. It doesn't have that dictatorship feel that college has because the players have the money and the control.
It was just so frustrating to be able to try to talk to anyone with the program because everything was a big secret. To be honest had they just come out and said that there were significant problems than it probably wouldn't have been a big deal but the situation got out of hand in a hurry.
I also never understood why the group of players she coached followed her from Missouri-Kansas City to SIU if they hated her so much. They claimed she changed over time and that the departure of "the good cop" (now in charge of Wichita State) was a big deal.
Those are feasible arguements to a certain extent but part of me thinks that a bad season got out of hand and the seniors didn't produce like they did the year before when the won the regular season title.
Either way, I thought it was a risky gamble to give the coach a contract extension after a second round WNIT appearance. Now the situation isn't as ugly, as far as I know, but the results are just as bad if not worse.
Sounds like someone we know.
Speaking of Jerry Wainwright, doesn't he look like the guy from Breakfast Club.
Just a thought.
I'm pretty sure he's one of the "good guys in sports".
Must be why he can't win.