Coach's Corner

I know I'm jumping on the band wagon, and like everyone else, I know I didn't even get to hear the closing arguments. I also admit I hadn't even heard a majority of the trial and much of the actual testimony.

I have been in attendance on a weekly basis though, so I was not surprised by the final outcome or settlement of the Rick Neuheisel vs. University of Washington/NCAA trial over wrongful termination.

I think it is obvious that Rick lied and was dishonest about not just gambling, but also a number of other things. He has admitted such and his dishonesty was at the heart of the UW's defense. He had put himself in a real precarious position by admitting his dishonesty to the jury. It was obvious that he had been warned more than once that his dishonesty could cost him his job.

Still, like the edge player he was, he continued to walk that thin line between truth and dishonesty and when ambushed by the NCAA, initially denied his involvement in high stakes basketball pools. Upon further consideration and mounting evidence against him, he finally came clean and admitted his participation.

I maintain that even though he lied at first, he did correct himself, and therefore, corrected the lie with the truth. Give him credit for that.

Since the fourth day of June 2003, Rick Neuheisel has been fighting an uphill battle against everyone from his ex-bosses, the UW, the Pac-10, the NCAA, to his even his ex-players and ex-coaches. He has finally gotten a job with the Baltimore Ravens and will get to work with quarterback Kyle Boller and may someday emerge as a head coach again.

Probably not at the college level, but who knows?

Had the NCAA not ambushed him, he certainly would not have lied in the second place (the 49'er lie was the first place). It is so obvious that David Price and the NCAA deliberately deceived him and the UW, and it is easy to see how they influenced his termination primarily due to their own admitted dishonesty. I would bet anything that Price knew the bylaws governing interview intention disclosures had changed when he directed the interviewers to not be forthright with their purpose.

Price also admitted to going over possible sanctions and penalties with Barbara Hedges almost immediately after the interviews ended, and also prior to the completion of the investigation. Then to have others in the NCAA make public statements about gambling further shows their lack of regard for justice or due process.

This act alone was the most galling of all the acts of dishonesty. Had this not taken place there would never had been the "lie that broke the camel's back." For this and this alone, I agreed the defendant, the NCAA, had been guilty of misconduct, guilty of interference, and guilty of setting Mr. Neuheisel up. I think they should have had to pay his legal fees and then give him, say, 3 million for damages to him and his family.

The settlement he received was almost exactly that.

I always felt that the University of Washington was well within their rights to fire Neuheisel and that his admitted dishonesty gave them "just cause" to do so. The fact that he had been repeatedly warned justified their right to dismiss him, even if he took back his lies.

I felt, however, that the 1.5 million dollar loan intended to keep Neuheisel from leaving on his own accord, should not have had to be paid back to the school, because he didn't decide to leave, they decided for him.

The trial itself was extremely interesting but once the NCAA admitted the violation of their own rules of process, it became evident that Rick Neuheisel was in a no lose situation. He had been set up and the thing that really got me was that the Pac-10 Conference had played along with the NCAA in the set-up.

Finally, the whole ordeal comes to an end. The Huskies can finally move on without Rick Neuheisel and Barbara Hedges. Throughout the testimony it became more and more clear that Hedges had panicked in another pressure situation. Her handling of the memo alone was enough to have gotten her dismissed. She had completely tied her regime to a man who had infatuated her. He does that well. There will never be any doubt about Rick's ability to be persuasive.

Neuheisel took his swings in the court of law and then David Price came in as a reliever and hung a high fast ball right over the plate. Rick might not have hit a grand slam, but he definitely went yard on the NCAA.

Regardless, the era has finally come to an end and there is every hope that the new leadership at Washington will lead the program back to the promised land.

That would be Pasadena, California, for those of you that forgot where it is.

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