As allegations about verbal abuse by College of Charleston basketball coach Doug Wojcik began to spread earlier this week, three former Tulsa players came forward with vastly different stories about their experiences with the embattled coach.
Kodi Maduka (2009-12), Deion James (2005-06) and Shane Heirman (2008-11) all played under Wojcik at Tulsa, but that's where their similarities end.
Maduka and Heirman considered Wojcik a "great teacher" and a coach who "cared deeply" about his players on and off the court. While conceding that Wojcik could be a task-master as times, they credit him with being a "tremendously" positive influence on their lives.
James, on the other hand, was a first-hand witness and a subject to several of Wojcik's tirades during their one season together and was not "surprised" that allegations of verbal abuse followed the coach to the College of Charleston.
Wojcik has been under lengthy investigation for verbal abuse of his players during his two seasons at the College of Charleston. A month-long investigation and its findings were submitted to the College of Charleston last month. The College of Charleston's investigation exposed dozens of examples of Wojcik lashing out at players with obscenities, personal attacks and physical threats.
The 50-page report, obtained Thursday by The Post and Courier, was compiled with input from 12 players, 10 of them anonymous.
Wojcik is painted as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character who bullies and demeans players, disparages the value of their education and tells some they'll never amount to anything in life.
Before coming to the Lowcountry in the spring of 2012, Wojcik was the head coach at Tulsa from 2005-12 and in seven seasons became the program's winningest coach with 140-92 record, which included two NIT appearances and a CBI title.
However, Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley fired Wojcik after the 2012 season not because of any allegations of verbal abuse, but for declining attendance at home basketball games.
"Since 2005, we have seen a 35 percent decrease in season-ticket sales, a 43 percent decrease in revenue and rapidly growing apathy among our fan base," said Parmley, in 2012. "Basketball is expected to be a revenue-producing sport and a marquee sport at The University of Tulsa. A change in leadership was necessary."
When Wojcik arrived at Tulsa, James was a who sophomore guard, had started 15 games the previous season. James was a hold-over from the John Phillips era. Phillips resigned early in 2004-05 season after a 2-5 start.
James said the season he spent under Wojcik was the "worst year" of his life because of the constant verbal beatings he took from the former Naval Academy star. James played in 28 games and averaged less than four points a contest with Wojcik had the helm.
"Coach degraded, belittled, and outright disrespected not only myself and my former teammates, but also his assistants as well as several staff members of the school," James said. "I have played for many tough coaches, however, no matter how tough you are as a coach, there is a line that once you cross, you can never come back. I've seen with my own eyes Wojcik cross that line. He talked a lot about being a 'foxhole' guy and he said I wasn't a 'foxhole' kind of teammate"
James' scholarship was not renewed the following season.
Maduka and Heirman were both recruited by Wojcik and both said the coach helped them mature and got them ready for the world after college and basketball.
The 6-11 Maduka was a starter for Wojcik during his final season at Tulsa and considered an NBA prospect.
"I came in as a 17-year-old freshman who was immature, hard-headed, and had attitude," Maduka said in an email. "And if it had not been for Doug Wojcik's high energy and initiative as a coach, I probably would not have grown up as fast as I did in those three years. He transformed me into the man I am today. Doug Wojcik is a loving, caring man who only wants the best for his players and who truly wants to see them be successful not only in basketball, but in life."
Heirman said Wojcik was a tough, demanding coach, but he was also fair.
"It was obvious that he cared about the whole person, not just the basketball player," Heriman said. "He worked with you to develop every aspect of your life and pushed you - albeit hard - to be the best you could be. Personally, I can now see that I needed the tough love. It opened my eyes to some changes that needed to be made in my life and I am forever grateful for his guidance and the positive influence he has had on me."
The one thing all three players could agree upon was that Wojcik was an elite strategist in the coaching ranks. Even James said Wojcik's meticulous pre-game preparations were the best he'd ever encountered and still uses some of the techniques he learned under his former coach to this day.
"As an X's and O's coach, he was second to none, the best I've ever been around," said James, who works as an assistant basketball coach at Hamilton High School in Milwaukee. "The man knows the game of basketball. Scouting, film study and knowing what plays or defense the other team is going to do, he's great. He was the best coach I've ever played for from that standpoint."
But James added there's more to being a good head coach than just being a great tactician on the bench.
"That's about 20 percent of it," James said. "Trust is a huge part of being a good head coach. You want your players to want to play for us and trust you and that's where coach Wojcik fails in my opinion."
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