Marshall: Fallout Coming From Dismissals

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about a pair of unhappy former Auburn athletic employees.

Auburn fans, for the most part, want the same things other fans want. They want to win championships and for their teams to be respected nationally. They want to beat their rival. They want to be able to brag about how tough their schedule is, how good their team is and what good people their players and coaches are.

But what Auburn sports fans and Auburn people in general probably want more than anything else right now is to be without controversy. From Jetgate to SACS to the firing of coaches and administrators to the basketball investigation, controversy has been Auburn's constant companion for much of the past 15 months.

Sadly, more controversy is at hand, the ugly, maddening kind.

Jay Jacobs, on the job as athletic director for less than six weeks, announced last Thursday that the jobs of associate athletic director Stacy Danley, assistant athletic director Eugene Harris and marketing coordinator Marvin Julich had been eliminated.

The fallout is coming. Keenan Grenell, Auburn's interim assistant provost for diversity and multicultural relations, and Auburn University Senate chairman Willie Larkin will be among those at a press conference today to express their concerns about Danley and Harris, both African-Americans, losing their jobs. Julich, who is white, is apparently on his own.

"We don't want to call it a protest," Grenell said. "It's an information sharing session. The community has to know what is going on."

Grenell was blunt in his assessment of why Danley and Harris are without jobs in the Auburn athletic department. He said he believes it's because they are African-Americans.

"Absolutely," Grenell said, adding that "the African-American community is outraged."

So batten down the hatches. Auburn's name is about to be dragged through the mud…again.

I have, for years, given unsolicited advice to those on either side of our state's rivalry who laughed at problems encountered by the other. "Don't laugh too hard. Your time will be coming."

And it always does.

Alabama had its bout with racial accusations when athletic director Mal Moore chose Mike Shula over Sylvester Croom to be the next football coach. A couple of weeks ago, it was Logan Young's conviction and the obvious conclusion that he had bought defensive tackle Albert Means like a piece of meat.

Auburn folks have grumbled about the scheduling of I-AA Western Kentucky to replace Southern Mississippi on next season's schedule, but that's small potatoes. The controversy on the horizon could be anything but small.

I wish Jacobs could have found a way around doing what he did. I wish Danley had not made thinly veiled threats in which he hinted at having damning information about Auburn's football program. I feel for all those involved and their families.

I wish I didn't have to cover stories like this one. Believe it or not, even those of us who report the news for a living grow weary of controversy.

I would much rather be writing today about the remarkable game played by Auburn's basketball team at South Carolina, about how five scholarship players, a former manager and a football player beat the Gamecocks on sheer guts.

I would much rather be writing about what a great win it was for Auburn's baseball team to beat Florida State 9-2 at Dick Howser Stadium on Sunday.

I would much rather be writing about David Gibbs working hard to prepare for his first spring as defensive coordinator or about the newly adopted son of offensive coordinator Al Borges and his wife, Nikki.

I would much rather be writing about the fact that the Auburn women's basketball team has worked itself into position to have a real shot at earning an NCAA Tournament bid.

Instead, I'll be at a press conference this morning to hear one side of an unfortunate story.

Was it really just six weeks ago today that Auburn beat Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl to complete a 13-0 season?


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