By now you are aware of what is going on in the NAIA baseball world. If you are not, let me catch you up to speed. Bellevue University was having a tremendous season at 35-7, and the top seed in the conference tournament…..not to mention one of the top 10 programs in the country. It was found that the Bruins used an ineligible player. The school self reported and the NAIA national office forced the team to forfeit any game the ineligible player played in, dropping the team record to 2-40. Neither win was a conference victory so the team was disqualified from the conference tournament, which they hosted.
The player in question was a young man named Jon Reed. The Omaha native played last season at Sam Houston State and started 36 games for the Bearkats. The kid was hitting .492 on the season for Bellevue, well enough for No. 4 in the NAIA.
Bellevue Head Baseball Coach, Mike Evans was interviewed on ESPN’s 1620 The Zone in Omaha, Neb. Before you continue reading, I would like you to listen to the interview. Click the link above and give it a listen. Form an opinion, and then come back and finish reading.
Okay, now that you have listened to it. What jumps out at you?
Is it that Evans continuously mentions “devastated student athletes”?
Is it that Evans takes ZERO blame for this incident and throws one man, ONE man under the bus?
The troubling thing for me in this interview is the fact that Evans takes no blame for what happened. I have talked to a lot of small college coaches and they all seem to say they are responsible for asking for a release. Even if you are not responsible for it, what kind of head coach doesn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s when you could be putting your season in jeopardy.
I was appalled when he said in the interview that he asked someone in front of the team if Jon Reed was eligible. First of all, that is NOT something the whole team should be involved with. Secondly, you should know before practice if the kid is eligible. You get paid for that. It is your j-o-b.
According to the Omaha World Herald, Sam Houston State head coach Mark Johnson had every intention of releasing Reed to the school.
“I’ve never held up a release to anybody,” Johnson said. “I told Jon and his parents we’d release him. He was a good player for us.”
“We had all intentions of allowing him to transfer and everybody knew it, but you still have to do the paperwork,” Johnson told the paper.
Any good coach that is being interviewed would not put the entire blame on someone else. The coach would say, “It is my fault. I am the coach and this is my program.” It is an unfortunate thing, but something we can all learn from. Coaches know they make mistakes and some are bigger than others. The good coaches, good people will acknowledge their wrongdoing, apologize for it and move forward.
Not Evans, he is claiming this is not his fault in any way. Yes, he has a good program and has for a long time, but events like this cannot be allowed to happen. I fully understand this is devastating to the kids and not all of them should be punished, but they NAIA did the right thing to set a precedent. These actions should not and will not be tolerated. The kids were not punished because of the NAIA, they were simply punished because of a coaching and administrative error.
The heck of it is, we live in a forgiving society….especially in sports. Don’t believe me? In 2008, Andy Pettitte admitted he used performance enhancing drugs and apologized….now, nobody cares. Mark McGwire spent a lot of time known as a big steroid user. In 2010, he accepted a job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. McGwire admitted his drug use and asked for forgiveness…….guess what, you have heard as much about McGwire and steroids since then. The Tiger Woods mess over the last few months remains a mess because of the lies. If you lie, people will hold a grudge. If you admit to a mistake and ask for forgiveness, there is a good chance you will get it.
In the interview, Evans called out the rest of the coaches in the NAIA. He said, “it’s not about winning and losing, it’s just about… just giving them a chance to play, just give ‘em a chance and that’s why I’m so disappointed in the other coaches.”
Perhaps the coaches don’t want to give a coach or school the chance who didn’t want to follow the rules. The kid in question was no doubt one of the best on the team. It is hard to say whether or not the Bruins would have the same success without a player who was ranked fourth in the NAIA in batting average.
I’ve said it once and I will say it a million times. It is unfortunate that the kids have to pay the price for an administrative error, it is not their fault. But for a program to get a chance they must follow the rules. Just as the program or coach have to trust that the kids will play their hearts out, the kids must trust the coach and program are doing everything they are supposed to so the kids can continue to play. Unfortunately, this was not the case and these players now must pay the price. If I was Bellevue, I would be happy the NAIA chose to only effect this season and not put us on probation in the future.
Evans is trying to make excuses for something that is inexcusable. He has not problem saying this is one persons fault. He is correct, it is one persons fault. But he has the wrong person.
Mike, this is your fault. Period. Accept the consequences and don’t let it happen again!…..If, of course, you get that opportunity……