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Some coaches need to grow up

By Jeffery Armstrong

I am going to make sure I delight all you readers with my Thursday columns each and every week from now on.

I missed my scheduled column day last week and look what happened in the sports world: two high-profile coaches acted like they smoked marijuana with Rasheed Wallace of the Portland Trailblazers, and lost great jobs in the process. One coach gets fired for going to a strip club and having a girl order $1,000 worth of room service with school funds and another was let go for being an alcoholic, going to frat parties and kissing young girls with a beer can in hand. Unreal.

Mike Price (formerly of the University of Alabama) and Larry Eustachy (formerly of Iowa State University) got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. What's worse is that both coaches are married and now have to face their embarrassed wives without jobs. I am all for what happened to both coaches – Eustachy, for example, was the highest-paid public employee in the entire state of Iowa. The entire state!

Price (and probably Eustachy) wanted a second chance to stay employed. In my opinion, they got what they deserved, especially Price, who was warned ahead of time not to do anything that foolish. A university faculty member has to show better judgment than those two guys did.

I know that for a fact because I was in a similar situation many moons ago, when I was Sports Information Director for my alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, located in Prairie View, TX.

I was a 23-year-old SID straight out of grad school, keeping stats for each Prairie View sports team in session. During the middle of basketball season, I traveled with the men's team on a long road trip (I believe to Kentucky) and we all stayed in a nice hotel chain. I had a room to myself. A few days before the game, the starting shooting guard asked me if he could use my room to "entertain" a young lady he met in the city. Imagine my dilemma. Just two years before I became SID, I was a Prairie View student with him and most of the basketball players. So the student in me was like "sure", and tell her to bring a friend so I can ?entertain' as well." But the faculty member in me turned him down, fearing that if he was caught, I would be suspended or even fired. He might have been slapped on the wrist – possibly benched for a game or two. I couldn't take that chance. To tell the truth, it hurt me to my heart to act like a "suit" and tell him no. Guys always feel that if they can't get lucky on a particular night, it's good if one of their boys can (there's nothing worse than several guys who've struck out with the ladies in one night). But I realized that as a faculty member, I had to be responsible and set an example for the other players. I also had to keep my job, because I suddenly became addicted to receiving paychecks.

It took a minute, but I convinced him to see things my way. I also didn't lose cool points with the players.

As I look back on those days now, I'm reminded of a line from the recent Spider-Man movie, when Peter Parker's uncle Ben said "with great power comes great responsibility."

Several sports figures need to heed that advice.

Jeff Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily. E-mail at jarmstrong@news-daily.com