Friday, March 03, 2006

'Midwest Fan' Has More Questions About Montell Marion, the Wrestler Who Transferred From Valley To Roosevelt And Was Booed At This Year's State Meet

A man identified as "Midwest Fan" found a way to get the spotlight of the Ronald Wesley Maly web page off of Steve Alford and collegiate basketball in general with this e-mail:

"Hi Ron,

"I wanted to divert attention away from a certain Mr. Alford for a moment. I don't want Al [Schallau] and you to end up seeing the doctor for any basketball-stress related issues before the Big Ten tournament.

"I watched the state wrestling tournament on television with some friends over the past weekend. When the final matches were over and the trophy presentations were handed out, I received a phone call from a buddy of mine, who is teacher and coach at a southeast Iowa school. He was inside Wells Fargo Arena to support a student of his who was competing for a state title.

"He noticed some of the fans were booing Montell Marion as he was awarded his individual medal on the stands. Marion, of course, is the young man who created a stir last year with his father by transferring to Roosevelt High two days after winning an individual title with Valley. The reason was that Montell 'needed to be at a school that embraces diversity.'

"My buddy wanted to know why the hubbub about it. I told him to the best of my memory on what happened. He was floored when he heard it.

This brings me back to your blog on March 1, 2005, when you gave your synopsis on the Marion/Valley/Roosevelt issue. I had the opportunity to watch several wrestling dual meets and tournaments this year and have watched the CIML teams. A funny thing came to mind as I was watching these teams. A conspiracy theory, as you would call it.

"Did Montell Marion transfer to Roosevelt, not because of diversity, but because Roosevelt had a better chance of winning dual meets and give him a better chance of winning another individual state title? Or was there something to the allegations, but it was never uncovered and no hard evidence was produced?

"This thought came to mind when I re-read the blog. Did Bryce Miller ever ask Jason Scales if he had any problems at Valley? [It was something you asserted that Miller would be wise to ask.] Did Morgan Wheat, Cashes Mason, or coach Willie Thornton deal with similar problems that Marion and his father said was the reason for Montell to go to Roosevelt? Since this incident, nothing has been said from the Marions, Valley, and Roosevelt. I am surprised that coach Thornton was never asked how he has been treated at Valley.

"I wholeheartedly agree with you that if there was any negative racial remarks that was made at Montell, he would be out of Valley High quicker than Alford signing a long-term contract with Indiana University. There is no place for that. I've been through it myself several times being a native of Waterloo and attending East High.

"I have another good friend who is currently teaching at Valley. For the three years she has been at Valley, she has not had any student come to her with concerns about insensitive comments being made towards them. She has never tolerated that and have been up-front with her students to tell her immediately if it happens, whether it was innocent or blatant.

"Back to Roosevelt. It was apparently clear that Roosevelt was going to be a much improved team heading into this season. Was Montell the missing piece they needed to compete with the likes of Lewis Central, West Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids Prairie?

"I sincerely hope that Montell and his father didn't use the 'race card' as a smokescreen to go to a school that would give him a better chance of winning another individual state title.

"Thanks again Ron!"

Midwest Fan

P.S. Al Schallau should consider creating a website. It should be called Al is the perfect guy to gauge what the average Iowa Hawkeye fan is thinking

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: There are still plenty of unanswered questions to the Montell Marion situation. "Midwest Fan" referred to Bryce Miller [right], the Register sports editor who wrote the original story about Marion and Marion's father being unhappy last year. If I recall, Marion's dad worked at the Register. Miller has shown he's not reluctant to personally jump into a controversial story situation [as a few other sports editors at the paper have been in the past], but I'm sure Miller would agree that not enough was done at the paper to provide an update or several updates on Marion afterward. I'm fairly certain no one from the Register asked Jason Scales [left], a former Valley football standout who now plays at Iowa State, about any possible racial problems at Valley. If there are racial troubles at the school, I haven't heard about them. "Midwest Fan" makes another good point by wondering why Willie Thornton, Valley's boys' basketball coach, wasn't asked by the paper about possible racial problems at the school].

* * *

Speaking of Willie Thornton, everyone tells me he's a nice guy.

Nice guy or not, how does Thornton explain the 5-17 record his Valley basketball team had this season?

That's unacceptable at a school that sits in the middle of the fastest-growing city in the state of Iowa -- a school that has won three of the last four Class 4-A state football championships and keeps winning state title after state title in other sports.

"They don't get the athletes to come out for the boys' basketball team," people tell me.

Whose fault is that?

I have a solution.

I'm all for turning the basketball coaching job over to someone who at least has a clue.

* * *

Bill Dwyre [center], who once was a sports copy editor at the Des Moines Register, is being replaced by Randy Harvey as sports editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Harvey has been assistant managing editor for sports at the Baltimore Sun. He's a former sports reporter, columnist and editor at the Los Angeles Times.

Dwyre is a good guy. He's been the Times' sports editor for nearly 25 years, and now will become executive sports editor of the paper. He may write columns.

* * *

"I am a victim of some severe sudden memory loss. Consequently, I have no idea who Mike Gartner is or was."

-- Ron Maly's quote when he was asked by an Iowa City Press-Citizen reporter to comment on Gartner for a story the newspaper published.