Tuesday, August 19, 2008

jackbooted thugs are not coming for Bob Pruett

I almost didn't write this post; I feel like wasting words and characters and stuff on this subject is not worth anybody's time. But it's a news item, and I'm a hits whore and would like to corner the market on traffic doing Google searches for "bob pruett horrible horrible scandal of doom".

The story, as you may already know, is that our new defensive coordinator, Bob Pruett, stands accused of various and sundry shenanigans, chicanery, and miscreanthood in an affidavit filed in a lawsuit against him, Marshall University, and various Marshall mucky-mucks. The accusations are related to the sanctions Marshall received in 2001 for said shenanigans, which were, as listed by the NCAA, impermissible employment of academic non-qualifiers, academic fraud and lack of institutional control.

This is all wel and bad, because UVA fans were in some consternation when former DC Mike London took the head job at Richmond; the hiring of Pruett made things more or less all better.

The problem is that the news is reporting this affidavit as brand-new, which it is, but the lawsuit is not. In fact the lawsuit is five years old. It was filed by David Ridpath, Marshall's compliance officer at the time, whose sole job was to keep Marshall out of such trouble as they got in.

The specific list of accusations can be found here; I won't go into listing them, they're already rather neatly summarized in the Gazette article. This can look rather bad, because the accusations are made by a couple different people, and on Marshall's side is Slimy Booster Guy, who, not at all coincidentally, was forced to temporarily sever ties with Marshall as part of the punishment; his rebuttal to the accusations is found in the second link above.

The down-low lowdown, or, Why Virginia Fans Shouldn't Worry:

- The NCAA statute of limitations for taking action on stuff is four years; Marshall was punished seven years ago.
- Pruett was not named in the NCAA bitch-smack report; in fact, the report made careful references to "the current head coach" rather than "Bob Pruett".
- Pruett, having not been named in the report, coached Marshall for a further three years, not a particularly common occurrence when a school is hit with sanctions.

Now for the speculative garbage, in which I speculate very speculatively about something I know little about. (The lawsuit.)

- Pruett is named in this lawsuit and has been so from the beginning. Why, then, does it take five years to come up with accusations like these? On the surface, they sound particularly damning, as you'd expect when filed by the plaintiff. Ridpath claims the football staff told the players to keep the compliance staff out of the loop. Further, he is suing essentially because his involvement in this blocked his path to becoming an AD himself. So why wasn't this stuff screamed from the rooftops when the lawsuit was filed, let alone before the NCAA came out with their verdict?
- Ridpath's attorneys filed a FOIA request in order to find out the legal expenses Marshall is paying out. To me, this means one of two things: They're looking to find out where Marshall will draw the line and settle rather than fight. Economics, you know: IF A > B, THEN "Settle Lawsuit"; ELSE "Fight Lawsuit In Court". Either that, or they want to know what they're on the hook for if the judge finds their complaint totally baseless. The former is more likely, and perhaps would indicate Ridpath is less about "clearing his name" than chasing the Benjamins.

In any case, the bottom line is this: Worst case, we have to go looking for a new DC. The NCAA cleared us to hire him though; standard procedure would be to check with the NCAA offices to see if Pruett has anything naughty on his record. This having been done, and the record coming back clean, the possibility of sanctions against UVA for hiring a dirty coach (which he probably isn't) is effectively zero. The NCAA, however, long ago considered this case closed, without finding Pruett guilty of any wrongdoing, and their bylaws more or less prohibit opening it back up. This is going to be one of those things that sort of just disappears in the frenzied happenings of the football season, and by Signing Day, we'll have forgotten that we forgot about it.

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