Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Reader Travis Simpson Says Morgan's Firing 'Had Nothing To Do With the Color Of His Skin;' Maly Wonders If He Can Handle All This Katie Excitement

Travis Simpson, an Iowa State fan from Des Moines, says TV station KCCI was "about as biased and 'non-investigative' as it gets" in a recent story about the firings of basketball coach Wayne Morgan and wrestling coach Bobby Douglas at Iowa State.

Here's Simpson's e-mail:

"This [story on KCCI] is about as biased and 'non-investigative' as it gets. Anyone that has followed ISU and UNI basketball the past few years knows that Morgan’s firing had nothing to do with the color of his skin. Morgan’s teams lacked discipline and most intelligent sports fans knew that Pollard was justified in making a switch to a coach he believes can take the program to the next level. Morgan was not going to be that guy. Pollard even interviewed an African American candidate in Rob Jeter, which accounted for 50 percent of his search.

"On to Douglas, he’s a coaching legend winding down a great career and it was made known that Cael [Sanderson] was being groomed to be his successor. With the Iowa wrestling job becoming available, it made sense to hand over the reigns of the program to Cael now and not risk Iowa making him the next Dan Gable of coaching. Again, another no-brainer hire.

"If KCCI really wanted to cover all their bases on this story, they should look into the same issue at the other Iowa universities and compare current and recent hirings which in recent times ISU has done a very good job in hiring minorities. ISU has had African Americans as athletic director, men’s basketball and wrestling, as well as several former and current assistant coaches on the basketball and bootball programs."

Travis Simpson
Des Moines

Here's the story to which Simpson was referring:

"Two recent coaching changes at Iowa State University are raising some concerns about diversity at the Ames campus.

"It only took Iowa State University four days to find a replacement for men's basketball coach Wayne Morgan.

"Two weeks later, the athletic department announced a new wrestling coach on the same day that Bobby Douglas said he was retiring.

"The abruptness of the two changes has raised some concern on campus.

"'It just kind of made me think about how the school is running things and if they even considered hiring someone of a minority,' said TiAnn Taylor, an ISU junior.

"Taylor and Brandon Davis, an ISU senior, say diversity is an issue that's important to all minority students on campus.

"The students question whether race was considered during the hiring process.

"'I feel race wasn't necessarily a motivating issue, but because race is involved, it is something that being a university on the state level, a public university, that it is something that they need to consider when making decisions like this,' Davis said.

"University spokesman John McCarroll said ISU President Gregory Geoffroy did grant a waiver for the athletic director to bypass the normal search process.

"'When you replace two African-American men with white men, people are going to ask the question. We understand that. I believe Jamie Pollard has made it clear that certainly race was not a factor in these coaching decisions,' McCarroll said.

"McCarroll said the university felt the two candidates on the list for head basketball coach created a diverse pool.

"'The assistant vice president for Iowa State responsible for those issues was aware of that and agreed that that was appropriate because of diversity is very much a consideration,' McCarroll said.

"University officials said the athletic department was also granted a waiver for the wrestling coach position.

"Because several other universities were looking for a new wrestling coach, Iowa State said it didn't want to waste any time and possibly lose Cael Sanderson to another school.

"[On Wednesday, Newschannel 8's Angie Hunt talks one-on-one with ISU's Athletic Director Jamie Pollard]."

Here's the KCCI story on Pollard:

"Jamie Pollard has made a lot of changes since taking over the Iowa State University's athletic department.

"NewsChannel 8 sat down with Pollard on Wednesday to talk about those changes and his plans for the future.

"Pollard said that anytime there's a change in leadership, people should expect change. He said he's not going to shy away from making a decision even if it might not make him the most popular guy on campus.

"Pollard has made his presence known since moving into his new office in the southeast corner of the Jacobsen Building.

"He's not afraid to shake things up -- as he proved with his recent hiring of a new men's basketball coach and a wrestling coach. Pollard is confident about his decisions and knows all eyes are on him.

"'We've done a lot of good things, but I also recognize that I'm only as good as the last decision I made,' Pollard said.

"That's why Pollard said his coaches are under just as much pressure as he works to take the athletic department to the next level.

"Pollard has high expectations for what he calls the university's marquee programs such as basketball and football.

"'In both of those programs, we need to be in a spot where we put our team in a position to compete for Big 12 championships," he said.

"Pollard believes his two new hires and the current coaching staff has what it takes to achieve that goal.

"Pollard said the university had to act quickly in order to guarantee Iowa State got the best man for the job.

"One week after men's basketball coach Wayne Morgan was fired, University of Northern Iowa's coach Greg McDermott was hired for the position.

"Pollard also dismisses any claims that race and diversity weren't taken into consideration during the hiring process, especially when he hired a new basketball coach.

"'We had two great choices, but we had a choice that represented the state of Iowa, that was from Iowa, grew up in Iowa that everybody in the state recognizes who he was, so we went with the best possible candidate,' he said.

"Pollard talked about his plans for the Hilton Coliseum, including a new scoreboard, video ring and new seats. He also shared his goal for football season ticket sales and the program overall.

"He's had a lot of people ask him the possibility of bringing back baseball, but he said he wants to work on the current teams before he would consider adding any programs."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I agree with Travis Simpson. I don't think the fact that Morgan and Douglas are black had anything to do with Jamie Pollard firing them. I can't believe that Pollard woke up one morning and said to himself, "I think I'll pull the plug on those two guys because they're black." It was obvious Morgan didn't have a clue. His Cyclone basketball teams lacked discipline both on and off the court. I published exclusively the fact a while back that Iowa State fans were alarmed when they saw two Cyclone players in a car at a fast-food restaurant in northern Missouri after the Feb. 11 game at Kansas. They were supposed to be with the team, but obviously weren't. And the player who was driving the car didn't have a driver's license! I also wrote that Iowa State could be in trouble with both the NCAA and IRS over the D1 Scheduling mess that wound up being the thing that got Morgan canned. Keep your eye on that one. Morgan had to go].

* * *

I don't know if I can handle all the riveting excitement about this Katie Couric move from NBC to CBS.

I mean, it's so overwhelming.

* * *

Speaking of overwhelming, is this a joke or what?

A headline on the front page of the Register today says:

revival pivots
on new library

The library?

Hell, I thought the condos planned for the Younkers building were the key to whether downtown Des Moines survives.

Shows me what I know.

* * *

Kevin from Kalona, not his real name, writes:


"Did the Register send Keeler to the Final Four to write a column about Big 12 coaches? Couldn't he have done that from his cave? This paper just gets curiouser and curiouser."

After I told Kevin from Kalona that he no doubt saw an early edition of the paper and that the columnist didn't always write from where he was, he [Kevin from Kalona, I mean] wrote:

"Yeah, I'm wondering if he was really at the tournament. And what was [Andrew] Logue doing over there? Only thing he contributed in our edition was a Q&A with Alford that had little meat in it."

Well, what the hell, I thought it was kind of enterprising that the paper was able to send two guys to Indianapolis in the same car. I'm sure they were instructed to stay in the same Motel 6 room -- which is always a cozy arrangement and something the Register likes these days.

The bosses long ago quit worrying about what anybody writes. Just so it looks good and doesn't cost any money.

However, I did wonder why Rick Brown, who has been the paper's lead basketball writer in recent years, wasn't one of the guys assigned to cover the Final Four.

But, like Kevin from Kalona says, things keep getting curiouser and curiouser at that paper.

* * *

A guy told me that he no longer plans to attend Iowa Cubs games at No-Name Ballpark.

He said he's checked, and heard that the crooks at No-Name are now charging fans $5 to park their cars.

That's up from $4 in recent years.


* * *

Buck Turnbull told me this one at lunch.

He said there was a story in the Register that quoted Stacy Frese Huber as saying, "We're all balling as 'Maryland cut down the nets Tuesday after its [women's NCAA championship victory] over Duke.'"

Hey, if that was true, they were having a great time!

Stacy Frese Huber is the sister of Brenda Frese of Cedar Rapids. Brenda coached Maryland to its victory.

Just one problem with that Register story.

I'm pretty sure -- well, kind of sure anyway -- it meant that the Freses were "bawling" during the net-cutting.

"Bawling" and "balling" are two different things, as anyone who has done both will be quick to tell you.

But the balling sure sounds like a lot more fun.

Dan Johnson wrote the story. Turnbull and I are trying to convince ourselves that he didn't use the word "balling" and that a sloppy copy editor made the mistake.

* * *

This was in cityview:

"One local announcer drew considerable praise during March Madness. Chuck Reed, working color for Larry Cotlar on KXNO, brought originality and humor to a job normally mired in cliches. For instance, after an inbounds pass was fumbled and lost in the closing minute of a close game, with nary a tenth of a second running off the clock, Cotlar asked, 'How can that be?' Reed responded, 'I don't know, but I do know that if I only have one day left to live, I want this guy keeping time."

Not so fast.

I know Chuck Reed well and I'll bet he'd be the first to say that the line about the clock operator wasn't original with him.

Indeed, the first time I heard it was a number of years ago when Bob Donewald was coaching Illinois State, and his team was involved in a close finish at Iowa State.

Donewald said something like, "If I have only 2 seconds to live, I want that guy running the clock."

And I'll just bet Donewald wasn't the first guy to use that line, either.

So don't believe everything you read. Especially in those giveaways at Dahl's and the Chinese restaurants.