Even if you seldom turn to the sports page you’ll know by looking at your calendar that the time of year dubbed March Madness is just about upon us. What you may not know is that a controversy is brewing in Philadelphia involving Temple University’s bombastic basketball coach John Chaney.
Chaney, considered an institution in NCAA basketball, sent one of his bench players, Nehemiah Ingram, into a game as a “goon” to “send a message” of retaliation to what the coach perceived as illegal screens being used by St. Joseph’s University. As a result, Ingram delivered a couple of extra hard fouls, one of which knocked St. Joe’s senior John Bryant out of the game.
What’s more alarming than the result of Chaney’s dirty tactics is the fact that they were premeditated. Before the game Chaney warned that if St. Joe’s engaged in the use of illegal screens he would send a goon into the game and then he went out and actually did it.
Chaney’s immediate damage-control response was to suspend himself for one game and only when Bryant’s X-rays revealed the arm was broken, effectively ending his college basketball career, did Chaney extend the self-imposed suspension to include the Atlantic 10 tournament as well. Meanwhile, virtually everyone in the sports media has taken a similar wait-and-see approach, gauging the appropriate level of Chaney’s punishment based on the degree of Bryant’s injury, not simply on the merit of Chaney’s recklessness.
In doing so, the sports media at large has nearly condoned Chaney’s tactics. No one has called for his firing or resignation. No one has pointed out that Temple University is a “commonwealth system of higher education.” Is it possible that Pennsylvanians would approve of their tax dollars being spent on the salary of a coach who stoops to such vigilante measures? Is that the type of education Temple University and alumni want taught to their students? What if Bryant hadn’t been injured at all? Or worse, what if he broke his neck? Shouldn’t a precedent be set here?
Why is the sports media so insecure about taking a stance on the issue? There is a myriad of potential reasons. Perhaps they fear losing relationships they’ve developed with other coaches if they speak out against Chaney. Many analysts are ex-coaches and players and maybe there is an unwritten code they don’t want to break. Whatever the reason, the sports media is proving to be painfully unreliable. It’s madness.
Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight was fired by Indiana University for slightly less acrimonious transgressions. Chaney has had an undeniably illustrious career – over 700 wins, five Atlantic 10 championships and 18 NCAA tournament appearances – which is why, like Bobby Knight, he will make a comeback somewhere else in a couple years. But right now he needs to be fired and given some anger management counseling. Eventually, public outcry will demand Chaney’s dismissal. It’s a shame the sports media will have little or no responsibility for that outcry.
By: Andrew Tavani