Sports Commentary 4/24/13 New Layers
The layers continue to peel back in the growing controversy within the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball program as confirmations of misconduct allegations against head coach Bill Holowaty surface. The evidence continues to build that the all time winningest coach in New England collegiate athletics history was overzealous in the efforts that went into building that record. There were already documented accounts of incidents in which he kicked a player, by his account by accident, and hit a player during a game. University president Elsa Nunez says she has now recieved a confirmation of an incident she finds even more egregious, in which Holowaty threw a helment into the stands during a recent game, an action that could have led to a lawsuit against the school. Yesterday I commented that I felt Holowaty’s history with the university, and his record, should afford him the opportunity to leave on his own terms. Today I’m not completely ready to step away from that sentiment, though Nunez points out that four of five allegations against Holowaty have already been confirmed and those actions alone could justify his termination. The scenario is troubling to say the least, particularly in light of recent events at Rutgers University, the latest allegations against Holowaty, ironically, becoming public on the day Rutgers hopefully stepped into a new era with the hiring of a new men’s basketball coach. Holowaty has declined public comment to this point but I spent yesterday discussing the situation with former program staff, former players, former colleagues, even former students for whom Holowaty was a health and physical education professor. The students unanimously found Holowaty to be an excellent professor, one of them, however, was also a player who found Holowaty’s demeanor to be quite different within the baseball program. As was reported in the Hartford Courant this morning there were also charges of missing funds within the baseball program, the Courant citing a former Holowaty employee as it’s source, likely the same former employee who earlier presented the charges to me. On both occasions the response from the university was that an internal investigation uncovered sloppy book keeping, but no money was taken. As I said yesterday, Holowaty’s record should not be allowed to speak for itself, there are human beings and human factors behind every record and if human frailties are, in part, behind the creation of that record, those frailties become part of the record. Some of the more serious allegations against Holowaty have been confirmed, demonstrating an unhealthy obsession with winning that led to incidents that cannot be tolerated. Holowaty says there is more to this story that will come out once a resolution has been reached and he can speak publicly, but it’s already clear that his continued employment as baseball coach would be an unworkable situation for the program and the university. Too many layers of this story have already been peeled back. I still hope, however, that there is enough respect left within the campus community for the man and his record to allow him to go out on his own terms. If given the option I’m sure Bill Holwaty would undertand his resignation is in everyone’s best interest. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.