BALL STATE IS OUTED BY RONNY THOMPSON
The Ball State-Ronny Thompson brawl is now on. Thompson released his side of the story to the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon. His story today includes some shocking claims about the in-fighting, incompetence and racism at Ball State. Is Indiana’s history with the KKK rearing its ugly head?
Wilbon missed a few details we got from our BSU source over the weekend. Wilbon is also hurt by space limitations in the paper.
Some of the best excerpts from Wilbon’s story include:
Thompson, at the insistence of his suspicious pop, Big John, kept a detailed diary of every meeting and phone call, with quotes, notes, times and supporting e-mails. He has photos, tape recordings and memos…
In a June 2 letter to Gora, Thompson says he was told by the school’s compliance director that an assistant athletic director uttered “several derogatory comments about black people in general . . . and used the n-word more than once in this conversation..
To give some background, Ronny Thompson, son of legendary Georgetown coach John, was hired to take over the Ball State hoops program in 2006. The team had an awful season and finished at 9-22.
Along the way, Thompson and staff were sited for two NCAA rules violations in 2006 and 2007. Ronny then dropped a bombshell and said that he had received racist notes in the coaches’ offices in June.
July 13th, Thompson resigned due to a hostile work environment. He also declined to speak to the local media about the notes and other issues in the weeks leading up to the resignation.
There was some great reporting done on the story but the leaks came from school side. On July 6th, Ray Murnagh (hoopswise.com) did a great, detailed piece but it was clearly from Ball State folks.
We talked someone close to the situation on the other side and here’s what they said.
The root of the problem started with the hiring of A.D. Tom Collins from Arizona State. There were two longtime staffers (Ken Brown and Pat Quinn) who also wanted the job and were passed over. Someone had it out for Collins from the get-go. As did some of the other coaches who were buddies with Brown, Joe Hernandez and Quinn.
It was a dangerous situation with two forces within the athletic department. The new guys, Collins and his men’s basketball coach Thompson, and then the old guard, who as it turned out would do anything to undermine the new guy’s efforts.
In both 2006 and 2007, Thompson and his staff were cited for minor violations. Both involved unauthorized supervision of the basketball team during the summer, either in the weight room or on the court.
This from the Ball State student newspaper:
Assistant coaches Troy Collier, Steve Flint, William Howze and Ball State Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Jason Roberson attended practices during the Cardinals’ first two weeks of summer conditioning in May. The appearances are secondary violations because members of a team’s coaching staff are prohibited to be in attendance during voluntary off-season workouts.
“It’s all secondary violation stuff,” says the source. “Nobody gives a crap except at Ball State. Most places don’t even talk about this stuff.”
Both violations were self-reported by BSU. The 2006 “incident(s)” came from women’s volleyball coach Randy Litchfield.
Litchfield, who was close to the spurned Brown, got upset one day that the basketball team’s voluntary conditioning ran into Litchfield’s gym time. He ran off angrily to the administrative office and bitched that the basketball team was in the gym and coaches were working the guys out.
Collins never took control of his athletic department. He was a delegator, who empowered his enemies by giving them control of the department
The snitching continued with a claim that the basketball coaches were in the weight room with the players. In 2006, there was an inexperienced weight room supervisor so the coaches often checked on the players for safety reasons. They were turned in by someone in the department on those “violations.”
These are minor things but they’re a pre-cursor to folks all over the building trying to catch Thompson and staff “breaking rules.”
After the season in 2007, there were more coaches’ sightings/violations. The university was quick to turn these shaky allegations into a report for NCAA without a thorough investigation. It appears that university investigators may have put squeeze on strength and conditioning coach Jason Roberson to build a case against Thompson.
“I’ve never seen a bigger bunch of crooked people,” said the source. “I wouldn’t wish that place on my worst enemy.”
In between the “violations,” Thompson and staff had to quell other rumors. There was one circulating that the coaches were buying and smoking weed with the players.
There was an incident spearheaded by Litchfield where Thompson was actually pulled off the bus before heading to a game. He was asked about using a female volleyball player in the recruitment of a player from another school. It went one step further and Thompson was questioned about potentially having inappropriate relations with the girl. This is on game day!
The administration chose to believe the coach on this one. But it was another sign of the ridiculous backstabbing attempts.
Things were ugly and to the point of no return after that 2nd set of “violations” were reported. Someone went around campus and posted the newspaper clippings about the violations in multiple locations.
The next day racist notes were found in the offices of the basketball coaches and support staff. The notes said, “niggers, liars and cheaters.”
At that point, Thompson saw the handwriting on the wall. He was not going to win this battle. And wouldn’t be backed by his biggest supporter, Collins.
“A rift grew between them,” said the source. “The famous NCAA lawyer Mike Glazier, who defends schools in these cases, got involved”
Glazier is the leading guy representing schools in these cases. He has history with the ASU point shaving scandal and the Minnesota academic scandal.
“He told Collins not to speak to Thompson anymore. Collins never said anything to Thompson from there forward. The communication completely broke down. Collins threw up his hands. He wouldn’t return calls. Thompson fell like he was on an island.”
The racist notes were ignored by the school despite repeated emails from Thompson to school president JoAnn M. Gora. There was no in-depth investigation into the source of the notes.
And then it flipped onto Thompson with the claim being made by some that HE wrote the racist notes in order to build his case for getting out of the job.
Ball State is in a dangerous position. They’re going to have to battle the clout of Big John, Sonny Vaccaro and more importantly the powerhouse lawyer/agent, David Falk on this one.
With Wilbon’s report about Thompson possessing tape recordings of additional racial slurs, the coach’s main adversaries Brown and Hernandez must be very nervous.
The Thompson camp feels very strongly about the negative racial atmosphere in Muncie and Ball State.
“They just didn’t see it coming. It’s different in Indiana. You see people driving around here with a confederate flag on the hood/front of their car and they don’t even think twice about it. Hell, the Klan was based in Indiana,” said the source.
“You think Indy is a modern city, right? A month ago they’re handing out KKK business cards in Indianapolis, putting it on people’s mailboxes. What kind of s**t is that? It’s 2007!”Explore posts in the same categories: College Basketball