Bowlsby Discusses Pierce Dismissal

University of Iowa Basketball Coach Steve Alford decided to remove leading scorer Pierre Pierce from his team on Wednesday after meeting with Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby. Bowlsby met with the media to discuss the situation: "Pierre Pierce is an outstanding basketball player. Unfortunately, he hasn't met our expectations in terms of some of the other elements of his existence on campus. We take those things seriously."

What do you know now that you didn't know the last few days in terms of the case against Pierre?

Nothing. (I) don't know any more now than we did before. Coach Alford and I have been in close contact over the last couple of days. Whether charges are filed or not, it seems to me that as Steve's release said (Pierce) has violated the trust that we put in him two years ago when we gave him a second chance. That being the case, we just agreed that this was the right way to go.

What was Pierre's demeanor when he was told?

Coach Alford did that, and I wasn't in the meeting.

Was this a joint decision between you and the coach?

It was Coach Alford's decision.

Did you suggest that this might be the appropriate route?

We talked about a variety of potential outcomes. We started that process on Monday and concluded it this morning. We both gravitated towards this outcome.

It what way did (Pierce) violate the trust?

By having a number of opportunities to have had last week's activities go a different way and by once again being in a situation that hurts the university and put us in a compromising position.

When did you first hear about the allegations?

Monday afternoon.

Is it safe to say that nobody knew anything about this during Saturday's game?

No.

Does (Pierce) have any right of appeal?

My decisions are always appealable. He certainly has the opportunity to a appeal it to appeal it to the Presidential Committee on Athletics and ultimately to the president of the university.

Do you think he'll do that?

I have no idea.

Is he kicked out of school?

No. This deals with his status with the team only.

Does it affect his scholarship?

It doesn't at the present time. If he continues to meet his academic obligations, we will keep him on scholarship through the spring semester. We'll make a decision regarding ongoing support at that time once we know all the facts and details.

Has he cleaned out his locker and headed out?

I don't know that.

Have you had any conversations at all with (Pierce)?

Not since Monday afternoon.

Does this reflect badly on Coach Alford?

Steve did a good job over the last year and a half of providing the structure that was required to give Pierre a legitimate opportunity to make good use of his second chance. I'm not sure what he could have done different. Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way any of us would have hoped it would have.

Could it reflect poorly on the (athletics) program?

Sure. Anytime we have somebody in trouble whether it's a coach or a student-athlete or administrator or anybody else, it reflects poorly on the athletics program and on the university. We understand the expectations. We understand the profile that we all have.

One of our high-profile people gets picked up for doing something wrong, they're treated different than the average student or the average staff member. We understand that.

You take the good with the bad. So, sure it's embarrassing.

The mediated settlement 2 1/2 years ago, did it include some sort of verbage that said that Pierre had to stay out of trouble for the rest of his college stay?

Does this reflect badly on Coach Alford?

I never did see the mediated settlement. I wasn't part of the negotiation. We were subject to a couple of elements of it, but I never was a party to the discussions.

But every step of the way I had the expectation that he wouldn't be in any further difficulty. I believe that was Coach Alford's expectation. And I believe that Pierre's expectation and belief.

Did Coach Alford's view on this change? He gave kind of an off-the-cuff quote on Monday at his radio show. Today, he says that Pierre betrayed the team. Is that indicative of the change in his attitude?

No. I think what he had said is he had betrayed the trust that we placed in him. I don't think that that's quite the same thing as betrayed the team.

But (long pause) I think we know a little more today than we knew Monday. What we don't know about is what really is going on within the West Des Moines Police Department. They haven't shared details with us.

Did the changing of the possible charge to sexual abuse affect your decision?

No. I don't believe it did.

To your knowledge was Pierre forthcoming with everything that happened?

I don't know when he met with the West Des Moines Police or if that has happened yet. So, I can't characterize how forthcoming he was there.

I had one conversation with him that was about 20 minutes, and he characterized in his words what had occured. At the time we talked, I had no reason to question his account of it.

Do you have reason now to question what he told you?

Well, there certainly are conflicting accounts.

What type of reaction are you expecting from people outside of the program?

I don't know that I've taken the time to assess what their reaction may be. We have to do the right things for the right reasons.

Obviously, one of the things that I'm going to do is meet with the team in a few minutes. As a player, they would like to have Pierre on the floor with them. There are some other aspects of this, most notably the disruption that it causes to their preparation and to their team chemistry that is not a positive thing.

Pierre Pierce is an outstanding basketball player. Unfortunately, he hasn't met our expectations in terms of some of the other elements of his existence on campus. We take those things seriously.

Does the basketball team have a set of its own rules for conduct?

We have a code of conduct for out student athletes. We've got a mission statement of some values and commitments that I think are reflective of our beliefs are.

But each team has their own team rules as well. Basketball has those like everybody else.

Was he in violation of those rules?

I haven't looked at them all that carefully. I certainly think there is something in there that would apply but I didn't look at it in that context.

Was there any part of the allegations or the alleged incident that stood out the most to you?

Repeated bad judgment.

Why in 2002 did Pierre stay here? I think a lot of people wonder why the athletic department or the coaching staff didn't strongly encourage him that maybe a start somewhere else would be a good step for everyone involved.

There were those discussions with him and among others. But ultimately it was decided that wasn't the way that he was going to go.

I assume a pretty good part of that was his personal decision.

Have you heard from Pierre's lawyer in regards to this decision?

I've had a conversation with Mr. Parrish. I wouldn't care to characterize it any further than that. (smiles, chuckles)

A second incident by the same player, will that affect the way you handle future incidents?

It seems to me that at one level or another you need to deal with most of these on an instance by instance basis.

The previous situation two years ago was enormously disruptive, enormously hurtful for a lot of people. It was ultimately resolved in a way that almost everybody that was associated with it was unhappy with. And it bound institutions and individuals in ways that maybe they didn't want to be bound.

That being the case, this one's different than other ones. There isn't any doubt about it.

In any way, shape or form, to you regret that decision two years ago?

No. But don't mistake this. I didn't agree to the mediated agreement. I didn't have any party in the mediated agreement.

There were some elements that came out of it that were binding upon us, and we agreed to go along with those things. I think people are entitled to a second chance. For the most part, we error on the side of trying to help young people do the right things at the right times.

Sometimes you burned on being that trusting. But I don't think that means you don't do it.

You kind of addressed this early, but does this team losing its best player have any implications on Coach Alford?

It doesn't as far as I'm concerned. As I said earlier, Steve did the things that were appropriate to both stimulate Pierre doing the right things and also providing the structure that insured that he did.

As much as it's characterized sometimes that we have this all-encompassing responsibility for people. A lot of times they're only with us three hours of the day. They've got the majority of their life elsewhere. We don't have as much control as we're sometimes believed to have.

Will you be looking at this situation when you evaluate the coach at the end of the season?

Last week he played for us. This week he doesn't.

We don't have any choice but to go forward. It will incumbent some of the players to step up and do more, I'm sure. They'll put that pressure on themselves and they'll probably put it on each other. It will cause the players to play different and the coaches to coach different.

Steve made a very good decision. I support it.

Did having Pierre Pierce on this team affect ticket sales the last year?

I don't have any way to assess that.

Do you anticipate talking to (Pierce) at all?

If he wants to that would be fine. I'd be happy to, but I don't plan to initiate any contact.

Is there any other plan to change the conduct policy in the athletic department as they're working on for the university?

We've been working in a companion piece that goes along. The PCA has been working on it for a little more than a year. I don't know what's going to come of that.

Was this supposed to be put in place after Pierce's first incident?

No, the only thing that was supposed to be put in place was a mandatory obligation to suspend somebody pending outcome in the case of a felony charge. That has been in place all along.

What affect do you think this will have on the team and the NCAA Tournament?

Now there's a fair question. (laughter)

I don't know. Just as I said before, everybody picks up a bigger share of the load. You move forward. We won quite a few Big Ten games last year with seven healthy players. We sure in a lot better shape than we were last year.


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