MISSOULA (AP) – Although seven Montana football players have been in trouble with the law since June, coach Bobby Hauck does not find himself in the same position as former Montana State coach Mike Kramer, who was fired after the arrests of several current and former players.
Both UM President George Dennison and athletics director Jim O’Day said this week that Hauck’s job is safe.
“It’s a very fair question in light of what we’re going through,” O’Day said. “I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding of the situation at Montana State. The piece that doesn’t add in here is the educational piece.”
Kramer, who coached the Bobcat football team for seven seasons, was fired in May shortly after former wide receiver Ricky Gatewood was arrested on drug charges. Gatewood was the sixth current or former MSU football player arrested. Of those, one has been charged with murder along with a former MSU basketball player.
Another factor in Kramer’s firing was the fact that the football team was losing scholarships for failing to meet NCAA academic standards.
Montana’s football teams have fared well in the classroom as well as on the field and aren’t on the verge of changing coaches.
“I don’t believe that we are,” said UM President George Dennison said. “I say that because I am still persuaded that our coach takes a lot of care when he does recruit student-athletes. He talks with the families, he talks with the coaches, the counselors and other people they know.
“He tries to make sure he’s recruiting students who are capable of doing well athletically as well as academically and socially. I think he’s doing all those things right.”
Three Montana football players — Greg Coleman, Jeremy Pate and Mike Shelton — face charges in connection with a home break-in in which authorities say a man was pistol whipped and shocked with a stun gun and a woman was bound with duct tape. Prosecutors allege the purpose of the robbery was to steal marijuana or cash. All three were suspended indefinitely.
In June, former Grizzly corner Jimmy Wilson was arrested and charged in the shooting death of his aunt’s boyfriend in California. Former teammate Qwenton Freeman, who California authorities suspect witnessed the shooting, faces charges for assaults on two women in Missoula. An arrest warrant also has been issued for Freeman in connection with the home break-in, said Deputy Missoula County Attorney Kirsten LaCroix. His bail was set at $200,000.
Lineman J.D. Quinn, who transferred from Oklahoma after being kicked off the team for accepting pay for work he didn’t do, was cited for drunken driving in July. His attorney said he entered alcohol counseling. He did not play in the team’s three nonconference games.
And in September, cornerback Timothy L. Parks was arrested on charges that he pointed a gun at a woman’s head and slapped her while trying to collect a debt. He remains on the inactive player list due to an injury.
“If there’s one thing I will say, it’s sometimes people ruin it for others,” O’Day said. “Take that as you want to perceive it. Moving forward, we’ll be looking at more things, and we’ve been trying to be proactive. You just hate to be reactive; that’s what’s unfortunate.”
Dennison said Hauck cares about the welfare of his players.
“As long as I’m convinced of that and convinced that he’s doing the job that he was hired to do, then I’m going to be supportive of him,” Dennison said.
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