Bart Benton and his College of Charleston teammates began to notice a pattern of behavior from Doug Wojcik in the earliest days of his tenure as the Cougars' head basketball coach.
WARNING: This report contains harsh and potentially offensive language.
Click here to read the full report.
So Benton decided to start making a list of all of Wojcik's verbal abuse and outbursts. He kept the "diary" for the entire 2012-13 season, his last year at the College.
"I just felt like it was something I had to do," Benton said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. "I felt like someone needed to document what was going on."
A College of Charleston investigation exposed dozens of examples of Wojcik lashing out at players with obscenities, personal attacks and physical threats. The 50-page report was compiled with input from 12 players, 10 of them anonymous.
Wojcik was placed on a one-month suspension without pay, or more than $33,000, for August and ordered to undergo mandatory counseling. The college also has established a "zero tolerance" policy for future behavior.
Benton recalled that Wojcik initially blasted him and other players during a preseason team meeting in the fall of 2012.
He said Wojcik told him in front of the team, "Don't act like a (expletive) lawyer when you're on this team. You might can read faster than me, but I've got that street (expletive). You're not (expletive) smarter than me."
Benton, who is now in law school at Georgia State University, said he was shocked at the time and couldn't understand why the coach had made his attack so personal.
It wasn't the first time Benton had been on the receiving end of one of Wojcik's verbal tirade in the short time the coach had been on the job.
Benton, a walk-on basketball player for the Cougars from 2009-13, had played for three seasons under the easygoing Bobby Cremins. He had loved the game and his time with the basketball team. He was crushed when Cremins decided to retire following the 2012 season, but said he had an open mind about Wojcik when the school hired him.
"Everyone loved coach Cremins," Benton said. "He was going to be a tough act to follow, but I think everyone gave (Wojcik) the benefit of the doubt at first."
The honeymoon didn't last long, he said.
"I can take a coach yelling at me and being demanding and tough," Benton said. "But he crossed the line. He made it personal on levels that he shouldn't have. It wasn't just basketball. He talked about parents and players' girlfriends."
As the season went on, Benton's list of transgressions became longer and longer. He said all the players were aware of the list he was keeping, and as the verbal abuse began to mount, teammates would give him more examples.
"Coach would go off on someone and they'd come up to me after practice and say, "Put that one on the list,"' Benton said. "All the guys knew what I was doing."
All of the players interviewed during the investigation said Benton's list was accurate.
At one point or another every player was a target for one of Wojcik's rants, but Benton, forward Matt Sundberg and forward Trent Weideman seemed to take the brunt of his wrath.
When the season was over, Benton, Sundberg and Weideman had exit interviews with College of Charleston Athletic Director Joe Hull. All three gave accounts of the verbal abuse under Wojcik. Benton and Sundberg were seniors and scheduled to graduate. Weideman, one of the team's top post players, had decided to transfer to Georgia Southern.
Benton said Hull was shocked to learn of his treatment under Wojcik and told the walk-on that he would take it up with the coach during his end-of-the-year evaluation.
"I think (Hull) was pretty upset and surprised by the whole thing," Benton said. "I think he genuinely felt bad about what had happened to us and the way coach Wojcik had treated us."
But Benton wasn't optimistic that much would come out of the exit interviews he had with Hull. The Cougars had gone 24-11 in Wojcik's first season and made it to the finals of the Southern Conference Tournament. They'd also earned a bid to College Basketball Invitational Tournament.
"I knew they were not going to fire him. How could they after they won 24 games?" Benton said. "I guess what I was hoping for was that someone would talk to him and that the administration knew there was a problem."
According to the report, Hull discussed the issue with then-college president George Benson. Benson instructed Hull to talk with Wojcik about the issue. In the report, Hull said Wojcik understood that he needed to change his demeanor toward the players.
"I'm sure coach Wojcik just thought it was three disgruntled players," Benton said. "I'm sure he felt like he hadn't done anything wrong, that he hadn't stepped over the line."
The Cougars plummeted to a 14-18 record in Wojcik's second season, followed by the report and its further accusations. On June 30, Hull met with players and indicated that he wanted to fire Wojcik, multiple sources told The Post and Courier. But Benson overruled Hull and the school handed out the suspension and other penalties.
Wojcik has three years left on a contract that pays him just more than $400,000 annually.
Notice about comments: