You didn't say I couldn't...


Every track team has guidelines, rules regarding do's and don'ts athletes are expected to follow, each explained at team meetings that kick off the new year. Typical things - like stay out of bars around campus or not cheating on tests or papers, behaviors that are obviously unacceptable.


But there are also many that weren't specifically included, simply because I couldn't anticipate that behavior or had never dealt with such a thing before. Incidents that years later continue to make for a good story over beers.


I never had a team rule that explicitly stated athletes shouldn't get arrested - and yet two did over thirty-five years of college coaching. Not surprisingly they involved alcohol. And both were on our spring break - one incident in Gainesville Fl and the other in Auburn AL.


The urge to leave each in the local lockup was hard to resist.


It's disconcerting to get a call in the middle of the night, reaching for a hotel phone that wakes you from a deep slumber, knowing whatever it is, it can't be good. It never is. But I guess I gained knowledge that couldn't be obtained any other way.


I learned that local law enforcement typically requires a cash bond to release said offender from jail - and in some states (Alabama) you must be a resident in order to post the bail. It's amazing what you become versed on as a college track coach - information not taught at any TF clinic.


Even worse (hmm...well) to have someone pounding on your door at 2:21am, tipping my head and peeking through the opening in boxers and a t-shirt, a police officer standing beside a male and female on your team, explaining he caught the them in flagrante delicto (look it up) at a park across the street from the hotel.


But you never said we couldn't...


Other than NO ALCOHOL, I didn't have specific guidelines regarding appropriate and inappropriate activities during an official or unofficial recruiting visit. My mantra was use your good sense - don't do anything that is iffy. Keep it within bounds.


So when athletes on the team came up with this idea for a recruiting visit the bells and whistles should have gone off. The guys located a fake ID for a 17-year old HS runner, the plan to take him to an Indiana (can you believe you only have to be 18?) strip club, providing the recruit with cash for a "special dance" that evening, well...WTF! That was way out of bounds. And even out of the state!


I guarantee I didn't learn about this until years later.

Yet I probably shouldn't have been so surprised about the arrests...or the ahem...it's not as if my generation was innocent. That I hadn't walked into a bedroom where my college roommate and a female were...well they were both making lots of noise.


Or that my teammate was arrested for streaking through a house party, sprinting out the front door in front of a police car (amazing timing!) yet eluding them for more than a mile with his speed. But eventually he was forced to sit naked in the back of the cruisier (yuk) on the way to jail after they spotted him hiding behind a bush. He didn't blend into the background.


Cops told coach Cretzmeyer that they couldn't have caught my teammate if he'd just continued running - that his conditioning far exceeded their ability to coral him. The "perp" was bailed out of jail early Sunday morning, Cretz chalking it up to youthful enthusiasm, concocting a pithy one-liner for Monday's Daily Iowan newspaper.


"I just wish he had run that hard at our meet on Saturday!"


After all these experiences, maybe I should have added "no bail money provided" to the list of rules but I didn't want to nourish demented behavior by my athletes. They would have only taken it as a challenge.


Plus, we would probably have gotten in trouble with the athletic director if he found out we posted a cash bond for athletes in years past - it's probably an NCAA violation!

Recent Posts

See All

Beginning next Sunday I will release the 21 chapters (two per week) of a novelette I wrote - the story of Matt Wilson, oldest of three children, his father an alcoholic and mother a shell of her forme