Cause and effect, at Oregon and Oregon State

OREGON STATE LAST week fired its women's basketball coach, LaVonda Wagner, amid a veritable mutiny occurring within the Lady Beavers program. The offseason exodus of players and staff members has been utterly shocking, as have been the allegations cast in the wake of the firing. So pull up a chair, here comes the bluster, fire and brimstone. Or the ranting and raving of a lunatic, take your pick.

Currently the Lady Beavers don't have enough players to even field a starting five – if the two players who filed their paperwork for a transfer do indeed end up leaving the program, Oregon State will have a whopping TWO players left. If that bombshell isn't enough to sit up and take notice, read on for the real eye-popper..


Inexplicably, Oregon State elected to fire Wagner "without cause" and pay out 1.2 million dollars instead. In an interview with the Oregonian, Oregon State Athletic Director Bob De Carolis was quoted as saying "there is a number of issues for the employment side (in the state of Oregon) that makes it very complicated to go down the "for cause'' route."

Complicated? Really?

More complicated than, say, $1.2 MILLION DOLLARS?!

SURE, I GET that there are legal issues to contend with here. One need only point out the legal wrangling with former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to serve as a recent example. But as far as I know, Leach didn't ever wind up with 80 percent of his players quitting the program -- as well as most of his staff leaving.

Leach's firing was political. The only thing political about firing LaVonda Wagner is that she is female and a minority, and something tells me that the women's rights activists would only need to read the printed allegations in the Oregonian of Wagner throwing chairs at her players and demanding some players attend Weight Watchers to decide that they weren't interested.

If this, combined with players and assistants lining up to be first to leave the program, doesn't raise a solid "for cause" argument, what the heck does?

ONE WOULD CERTAINLY think that the printed allegations alone merit a termination with cause, without even considering Wagner's failures as a head coach in terms of record (68-85). As the spotlight shines on the trainwreck that has become the Lady Beavers basketball program, it seems clear Wagner attended the Bobby Knight coaching clinic, except it appears LaVonda played hooky on the day where they went over "How To Win".

But hey, at least the contract -- and the undeserved extension through 2012 -- was actually written down.

THE ONLY THING more shocking than OSU's electing to just gift Wagner $1.2 million in order to make her go away quietly would be the handshake, verbal multi-million dollar backroom deals going on at the Oregon under Pat Kilkenny's watch.

The buzz from Eugene, again reported in the Oregonian, is that Mike Bellotti asked for a 7 million dollar golden parachute, after being unceremoniously shoved into the AD gig in favor of Chip Kelly and then less than a year later, relieved of the Athletic Director duties.

For a businessman of Kilkenny's skill set, it's unfathomable that 7-figure contracts were agreed upon verbally, with a handshake and fistbump – and possibly a wink, knowing that since the contract was not recorded in written form, it was not subject to any kind of review (or purview) from outside the program by state agencies.

IN KILKENNY'S CASE, it's almost a moot point to discuss whether or not he should be placed under the microscope. Kilkenny stepped down in order to make way for Bellotti's transition, and served as a consultant.

Despite being the logical choice to serve as an interim director after Bellotti was terminated, Kilkenny's services were not retained in temporary or interim capacity. Or any capacity, it would seem.

DeCarolis is another matter. He's the current A.D. at Oregon State, despite his now seemingly yearly attempt at failing to get another AD gig elsewhere.

At the heart of both situations, it does make one wonder how in the world things can get this far, and just how long these kinds of things have been going on.

How does the total disintegration of a women's basketball program happen before some action, any kind of action, takes place?

And how in the world do multi-million dollar employment contracts get negotiated without so much as a note on a cocktail napkin?

FOR ALL THE indignant opining about football players running amok at both Oregon State and Oregon -- fraternity thefts and golf cart destruction included -- it pales in comparison to the shenanigans that have happened at both schools under the (alleged) watch of their respective Athletic Directors, and the lack of oversight by the Athletic Department wobbles straight into the realm of appalling.

They say that hindsight is 20-20, and they're right. But that doesn't mean foresight has to be 20/240, which is right about the trammeled vision one would have to have in order to craft these two cluster headaches from hell.

But hey, maybe Kilkenny and DeCarolis are just preparing themselves for a new business venture together where back room handshake deals, lack of oversight, golden parachutes, seven figure please-don't-sue-me-hush-money and meritless contract extensions are the norm. I hear they are considering the company name "Bob and Pat's Shmenron".

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some chairs to throw at some subordinates. Right after I add a new buyout clause to my imaginary contract.

Comments? Disagree? Boisterous repudiation? Want to call me an idiot? Go on, we can take it. And by we, I mean Barry and Dan, to whom I forward on all the fun stuff. Email

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