Friday, December 31, 2010

So, uh, how do you explain this one? (7 x UPDATED)

7th UPDATE: 5:20 p.m. EST: One sports columnist reminds us that Mr. Haywood's arrival in Pittsburgh was brought about by the dismissal of Dave Wannstedt. Perhaps the most poignant part of the editorial is this:
Wannstedt resigned as the head coach at Pitt amid heavy pressure from local and national media and from the university's boosters on Dec. 7. However, he did not fully rid the Pittsburgh football program of his average coaching skills. Instead, Wannstedt accepted the position of special assistant to the athletic director.
Now the question is: Why did Wannstedt accept a position as the glorified No. 2 at Pitt Athletics? Is it because he is going to be next in line to take over at Pitt once current athletic director Steve Pederson's contract is up? Is this just a way to keep Wannstedt around since there is nothing out there for him?
Because there really isn't.
If you look carefully, you might see the bus tracks on Mr. Wannstedt's back.

6th UPDATE: 3:35 p.m. EST: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Mr. Haywood posted bond and has been released from jail. The paper adds that he will be arraigned on Monday.

5th UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. EST: Those expecting a quick resolution -- both from a legal and employment standpoint -- to this story are sure to be frustrated. It's doubtful that Mr. Haywood will appear before a judge until Monday to hear the charges against him, and University of Pittsburgh officials also are in need of time to explore what happened.

Yes, the (social and mainstream) media frenzy is sure to continue, and the scrutiny of Mr. Haywood and of Pitt is sure to increase as a result. The legal system will likely take the lead, meaning university officials are not going to decide what to do with their new football coach until a legal move in made.

Moreover, the athletic department needs to further investigate Mr. Haywood's past. If this is an isolated incident, that gives Mr. Haywood some chance of keeping his job. But if there is any hint of a pattern of such behavior, then I see no way he remains in his job.

4th UPDATE: 9:24 a.m. EST, Jan. 1, 2011: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues to provide additional details about the circumstances that led to Mr. Haywood's arrest.

Am I the only one who thinks that the situation looks worse for Mr. Haywood each time new details come out?

3rd UPDATE: 9:11 p.m. EST: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has additional details about the apparent altercation between Mr. Haywood and the unnamed woman. It includes word that the university will have no immediate comment on the situation.

2ndUPDATE: 8:07 p.m. EST: KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh has posted Haywood's mug shot from his arrest.

1st UPDATE: 7:50 p.m. EST: No matter what Pitt does in this circumstance, the double-standard in college and professional sports is on display tonight.

Despite the holiday weekend, there will be intensive coverage especially in Pittsburgh of Haywood's arrest and initial forays into the Indiana legal system. Part of that coverage will be the calls for the university to dump Haywood (a reasonable decision, if you ask me).

But then there are athletes such as Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As CBS News reported in April:

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback will not be charged related to an alleged sexual assault at an Atlanta area night club, a Georgia district attorney announced Monday.
District Attorney Fred Bright said questions still persist about what happened March 5 between Roethlisberger and a 20-year-old college student in a bathroom at the Captial City nightclub, but that he believed prosecutors would not be able to bring a case that would convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Bright also emphasized that the accuser did not want the case prosecuted.
The same CBS report added:
In the summer of 2009 another woman came forward alleging that Roethlisberger assaulted her in his Lake Tahoe, Nev. hotel room in 2008. He has denied the allegations and is fighting the suit.
Roethlisberger was suspended prior to this season by the NFL, but as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported this week
After months of public debate -- some criticizing Roethlisberger for a pattern of boorish behavior, others defending him -- he was greeted with cheers at Heinz Field upon his Oct. 17 return Outside the stadium that morning, though, a group of two dozen protesters decried his return.

Roethlisberger quickly re-established himself among the NFL's elite quarterbacks in leading the Steelers to the playoffs, his 94.3 passer rating eighth in the league. He also has drawn praise from teammates for his effort to turn around his life and reputation.

"You're a human being. You care what people think," Roethlisberger said two weeks ago. "I hope and I think a lot of people really felt that I was genuine in the things I said, because I was. Hopefully, they have forgiven me or they are working toward it."
And just this week, the local Pittsburgh media announced that
Ben Roethlisberger won The Chief Award, given annually to the member of the Steelers' organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the news media displayed by franchise founder Art Rooney Sr.
Roethlisberger is the first quarterback to win the award in its 23 years. (Full Post-Gazette report here.)
My point is simple -- star athletes get second and third chances. Newly named football coaches often don't.

Moreover, Roethlisberger is linked to the sexual assault of a woman (and maybe more than one), while police say Haywood shoved a different one. I'm not saying what Haywood is charged with is acceptable; but I'm acknowledging that if he was a star athlete, the chances of him keeping his job would be much better.

That's fair because...?

ORIGINAL POST: Just two weeks ago, Pitt hired a new football coach. Tonight, that coach -- Mike Haywood -- sits in a South Bend, Indiana, jail facing charges of domestic violence.

According to the Sporting News:
According to police, a custody issue was at the center of the alleged altercation and Haywood refused to leave the residence. The woman, unnamed in the report, told police Haywood "grabbed her by the arm and neck and pushed her." (Full report from The Sporting News here)

How dumb can you be?

Yes, journalists need to be careful not be jump to conclusions about any story, but there also needs to be a recognition that such accusations cannot be dismissed as some tiff between a man and a woman. Moreover, and if you think I'm on a soapbox then I encourage you to get a reality check, there is no circumstance under which any man should assault any woman.

The University of Pittsburgh and its athletic department has yet to comment on Haywood's arrest (or if they have, then I've not seen it), but the bigger issue is how they will deal with this situation.

If Haywood has not yet signed his contract -- and it's not uncommon for coaches to accept new jobs without formally signing a deal immediately after being hired -- Pitt could cut ties with him. If there is a contract, the university could seek to have it invalidated or simply pay Haywood a lump sum to walk away.

Muddling the situation even more is that many schools have lined up their new coaches, recognizing that the signing day for freshmen is about five weeks away. If Haywood were to be dumped, Pitt would need to quickly but thoroughly conduct a new search.

All of this because one man acted like an idiot.

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