Tag Archives: Don Carthel

West Texas A&M has explaining to do

I’ll leave it to folks who are more in the know on West Texas A&M University athletics issues, people who are adept at parsing language or looking for things said or not said.

Jon Mark Beilue, writing for the Amarillo Globe-News, writes that he smells a rat in the sudden resignation/retirement of head WT men’s basketball coach Rick Cooper.


My pal Beilue has been around more WT locker rooms than most individuals. He knows the lay of the land at the Canyon campus.

But from my vantage point here in the peanut gallery, I have to concur that something’s just not right with the WT athletic program. This year has produced a couple of stunners.

First came the firing of head football coach Don Carthel, just two weeks before the start of what has turned out to be a successful season. The Buffaloes are still in the Division II playoff hunt for the national title. Carthel was canned for an NCAA ethics violation.

Now comes Cooper’s “retirement.” Beilue believes Cooper just walked away because he’d “had enough.”

Of what? Or of whom?

The common denominator in both coaches’ departure is WT athletic director Michael McBroom. Is he the reason for Cooper’s decision to quit barely a quarter of the way into this basketball season?

About four years ago, WT made a big deal out of its desire to create a first-class athletic environment. Its strategy was to become a magnet for blue-chip athletes who could come here to participate in revenue-producing sports — such as football and basketball. They would bring fans to the games, generating revenue for the school, enabling WT to build better facilities. It all sort of feeds on itself and that was WT President Pat O’Brien’s stated mission.

Then — poof! — the two most successful coaches in the school’s history are gone. That is no way to build the kind of athletic program a university envisions.

Something smells at West Texas A&M University. Are you paying attention, Texas A&M University System Board of Regents?

WT set for crucial season opener

Few times in the football history of West Texas A&M University has an opening game had as much significance as the game that’s coming up Sept. 12 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

The Buffs will take the field against Chadron State. They will have to deal with the shadow of a man who’s no longer a part of the program. Former Coach Don Carthel got canned two weeks ago over an ethics violation.

The interim coach this year will be Mike Nesbitt, who I believe could be an early-season favorite for Division II national coach of the year if he holds his team together.

Carthel’s firing couldn’t have come at a worse time. The team was finishing its preparation for a season most observers believed — maybe they still do — would be full of glory for the Buffs. I’m still uncertain as to whether the violation rose to the level of punishment that WT’s athletic department levied against Carthel. The coach took players to a baseball game, received reimbursement from the athletes and then fibbed about the timing of the reimbursement.

Boom! Like that he was gone. What’s done is done.

Nesbitt has taken over. He’s saying all the right things to local media, about how his team is “focused” and is getting ready for the season — as if he’s going to say anything to the contrary. You never hear coaches talk of turmoil upsetting team chemistry or causing emotional heartache. The stated public view is always the same: We’re soldiering on.

So we’ll see in short order whether the Buffs are as focused and dedicated to the task at hand as their coaching staff is saying. Texas A&M-Commerce comes to Kimbrough Stadium on Sept. 21 to begin the Lone Star Conference season.

The WT brass still has some explaining to do regarding Carthel’s firing. I hope it comes clean. Meanwhile, the players and the coaches who remain deserve the support of a fan base that had returned to the Buffs’ side when Carthel’s teams began winning so many football games.

Carthel vs. McBroom, etc.

The earth is still rumbling under the feet of the West Texas A&M University football program, which saw its head coach, Don Carthel, fired over an apparent ethical lapse.

In his statement to the public, Carthel spoke of his “unhealthy” relationship with WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom, for whom Carthel worked and who did the firing this past week. Carthel was fired for violating a rule governing the conduct of players. Carthel took two of his players to a big league baseball game this summer in Arlington, got them to reimburse him for their game tickets and then fibbed about when he got the players’ payment; he then asked the players back up his story.

Bad call, coach.

It has since occurred to me that friction between a highly successful coach and his or her boss — namely the university athletic director — isn’t all that uncommon.

Let me make clear that I am not privy to the details of the two men’s professional relationship. I cannot vouch for how they feel about each other as men. I don’t know either of them, although I’ve shaken Carthel’s hand and spoken with him a time or two on occasion.

Almost by definition, a successful athletic coach must possess a large ego, not unlike a politician who seeks a high office. The late Sen. George McGovern, who ran for president, once said a big ego was the No. 1 requirement of a successful politician. So it should be with a successful coach.

It might be, then, that Carthel’s own ego got in the way of his relationship with McBroom.

Other coaches have run afoul of their bosses. Look what’s happened down the road a bit, at Texas Tech University. Head football coach Mike Leach was fired over an allegation that he mistreated one of his players, but the trouble had been brewing almost from the day Leach got there. He’s a bit of an oddball and his style didn’t always seem like a good fit with the hidebound types who call the shots at Tech.

Then, of course, former head men’s basketball coach Bob Knight got into that infamous salad bar argument with Tech Chancellor David Smith.

I’m not suggesting that Don Carthel is in Leach’s league, let alone in the same league with the fiery Knight.

Successful coaches don’t come along very often. Universities usually pay them lots of money to win football games, which means more fans come to the games, which means more cash for the school, which means better recruitment opportunities to lure blue-chip athletes to keep the winning program going.

Get it?

It might be that McBroom was looking for a way to get rid of Carthel — who then did his boss a favor by handing him the opportunity.

Carthel kinda/sorta had it coming at WT

I’ve returned from the proverbial “temple,” where I’ve been pondering the stunning firing this week of West Texas A&M University head football coach Don Carthel.

I have concluded — for the time being — that Carthel had it coming.

He went to a Lone Star Media Day event in the Dallas area earlier this summer. He attended tickets to a Texas Rangers baseball game. He took two of his players with him. Carthel and his team returned home to the Panhandle after the event and the players reimbursed their coach for the tickets. Carthel then reported he’d been repaid before the game, not after, and asked his players to back him up.

No can do, said the WT athletic department high command. That’s a violation of an NCAA ethics tenet.

You’re fired, coach, for “pressuring” players to lie.

I get that WT cannot condone lying among its student-athletes, or anyone for that matter. I also get that if the coach had broken a rule knowingly that could result in his termination, then that adds even more ammo to the WT athletic director’s arsenal of evidence against the coach.

Furthermore, if Carthel didn’t know he had committed a firing offense, why didn’t he crack the books more diligently back in 2005 when WT hired him to resuscitate a near-dead football program?

This is a tough time for WT’s football program. My hope now is that the boosters who’ve given so much support — i.e. money — won’t give up on the athletes and the coaches who now are entering what most folks believe is supposed to be a highly successful season.

I’m hoping for the best at West Texas A&M. Go Buffs!

It’s about pressuring others to lie at WT

West Texas A&M University President Pat O’Brien has let it be known what brought about the sudden firing of the most successful football coach in the school’s history.

Former Buffaloes Coach Don Carthel “pressured” a couple of student-athletes to lie about when they reimbursed the coach for tickets to a big-league baseball game this past summer.

Here’s what O’Brien said on a Facebook post in the past few hours:

“The issue is not the purchase of the tickets but the lying associated with the purchase. Please refer to NCAA Article 10.1. The major issue is not that Don lied but he pressured two students to lie. We are not in the business of teaching students to lie.”

Carthel issued a statement this week in which he told how he took a couple of his players to see a Texas Rangers game in Arlington while visiting the area for a Lone Star Conference “Media Day” event. The athletes repaid Carthel for the tickets after attending the game, but the coach told the WT brass the kids repaid him beforehand. I guess he asked the kids to back his story up if the brass questioned them about Carthel’s version of events.

They did and the coach is gone.

End of story, right?

Probably not. There’s got to be more “there” there. Still waiting for a full accounting of cost Carthel his job. My hope now — for the sake of the team that’s about to start its 2013 season — that it all comes out in short order.

So … this is a firing offense at WT?

I’ve read this statement three times already and I think I understand what happened to West Texas A&M University football coach Don Carthel.

He took two athletes to a Texas Rangers baseball game in Dallas, asked them to reimburse him for their tickets to the game after the event to avoid getting slapped by the NCAA, and then told WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom that he was reimbursed before the event. Thus, he fibbed to his boss about when he was repaid for the expense, but he did so in good faith, thinking that the AD would want him to be on the up-and-up.


And for that he got fired?

This is going to take a bit of time to process.

Carthel talks in his statement about his testy relationship with the WT athletic brass, including McBroom. I’m left to wonder now if the athletic director was looking for a reason to can the coach.

Technically, he might have found it with the fib about the reimbursement. I’m having trouble getting how that constitutes a “blatant” disregard for ethics rules and regulations.

I’ll need more time to think this one over.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop at WT

West Texas A&M University has dropped one of two shoes relating to the sudden firing Thursday of head football coach Don Carthel.

I guess that’s progress. Still, inquiring minds are waiting for the rest of the story.

WT dismissed Carthel on the eve of what football experts predict is going to be a highly successful season for the Buffaloes. Athletic Director Michael McBroom initially offered a lame “thank you” to Carthel for rebuilding the program. Then late Thursday came word of an NCAA infraction. I heard the word “blatant” used regarding the violation.

WT, according to McBroom, had no choice but to fire Carthel.

Carthel allegedly interfered with an NCAA investigation into some undisclosed infraction at West Texas A&M … at least that’s what I got out of McBroom’s partial “explanation.”

I understand fully the need to protect the integrity of whatever probe is ongoing here, Mr. Athletic Director, but you have a responsibility to the public that pays the freight for your program to offer a tad more detail as to what happened, who did it and when it occurred.

The timing of this firing is about as bad as it gets, with the Buffs finishing up their preseason preparation for the upcoming season. Assistant Coach Mike Nesbitt will take over as interim head coach. He’ll have his hands full keeping his players focused on game plans and the opponents they’ll face on the field.

Idle curiosity among those who are interested in the future of WT can inflict a lot of damage in the form of rumors and innuendo. WT’s brass should consider that when pondering if and/or when to drop the other shoe.

WT needs to come clean … quickly

Well, that was a shock. West Texas A&M University has fired head football coach Don Carthel, who rebuilt a program that was in the crapper.

As of this moment, I’m unaware of the reason for firing Carthel, the winningest coach in WT history. Athletic Director Michael McBroom has issued some kind of milquetoast statement thanking Carthel for building a program and returning it to national notoriety.

But Carthel, a native of Friona, is gone. An assistant coach will take over on an interim basis when the season starts in just a few days.

The timing of this dismissal is amazing. So is the absence of any stated reason.

WT, being a public university, operates under the state’s personnel exemption, meaning that the school can keep the reason a secret if it so chooses.

My recommendation is for WT to spill the beans immediately. The public needs to know what happened at WT for Carthel to fall out of favor. Absent any truth-telling from the WT brass, the rumor is bound to take off like a skyrocket — and there’s no telling how many reputations may be damaged unjustly.

Talk to us, WT.