With the advent of social media, smart phones and instant messaging, the sanctity of the locker room has all but vanished from the college sports landscape.
The days when what happened in the locker room, stayed in locker room, are all but over as a growing number of incriminating videos and audio recordings of coaches acting badly have surfaced over the last few years.
A 50-page report - which included video and audio of College of Charleston basketball coach Doug Wojcik verbally attacking players - is only the most recent example of a coach crossing the line between what is an acceptable way to motivate a player and verbal abuse.
Wojcik joins a growing list of coaches who have been caught in scandals. Rutgers coach Mike Rice, Boston University's Kelly Greenburg, Oakland's Beckie Francis and Green Bay's Brian Wardle are only the most recent coaches to make the headlines. Rice, Greenburg and Francis all lost their jobs, while Wardle was reprimanded using for vulgar and obscene language. Wardle, however, kept his position at Green Bay and signed a new five-year contract extension in April.
A College of Charleston investigation exposed dozens of examples of Wojcik lashing out at players with obscenities, personal attacks and physical threats. The report, which The Post and Courier obtained last week, was compiled with input from 12 players, 10 of them anonymous.
Wojcik was placed on a one-month suspension without pay, costing him more than $33,000, for August and ordered to undergo mandatory counseling by former College of Charleston President George Benson. The college also has established a "zero tolerance" policy for future behavior.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, South Carolina coach Frank Martin, former Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio and former Boston College head coach Al Skinner all weighed in the subject during ESPN's "Outside the Lines" this past week.
All four coaches agreed that attacking a player on a personal level is not acceptable and crosses a line between player and coach.
"I tell my players all the time, the day it becomes personal is the day I can't coach you anymore," Martin said on the ESPN show. "I need to make sure the kid and I have a personal relationship and that way we both understand each other, so we never cross that line."
Izzo, who won an NCAA national title in 2000 and has been to six Final Fours, was Wojcik's boss when he was an assistant coach with the Spartans from 2003-05. Izzo has been around the game for more than 30 years as a coach, and said what was acceptable when he started his career at North Michigan in the late 1970s would not be appropriate with today's athlete.
"I think that line moves according to where you are and what kind of program you're in and what kind of communities you're in," Izzo said. "No question you can't go above and beyond it. I think for the most part coaches are going to deal with kids like they would their own. If one of my kids needs to be disciplined, if they need to be talked too, that's what's going to happen.
"I don't think you can grab a kid, I don't think you can do any of those things. I think I can be hard on my kids, but I think they know how much I care about them."
Skinner, who is an assistant coach at Bryant, disagreed. Skinner said the line of acceptable behavior of a head coach is still the same as when he was playing 40 years ago.
"I remember when I was coming up Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) had a problem with his high school coach being verbally abusive and he didn't want to play for him, so players have been voicing their opinions for a while," Skinner said. "You can't attack a player on an individual level. Each guy is motivated in a different way, each guy responds differently, but there is still that line that you cannot cross because if you do you're going to break down that trust and mutual respect. If you do that then there's no way that player is going to play for you."
Martin contends that the line is made up the coach and the individual player. What might be acceptable for one player, might not be for another.
"I don't know that there's a line you cross or don't cross," Martin said. "I think that's something that, we as coaches, have to address in recruiting. There are different lines for different people. There's not a book on how to manage every individual the same way. It's never ending change. You learn every day from the people you manage. You have to recruit guys that fit who you are and believe in you and you continue to build that relationship."
This issue hits close to home for Martin, who was reprimanded twice and eventually suspended for outbursts. Martin was suspended for the Gamecocks' season finale against Mississippi State after a court-side tirade at freshman guard Duane Notice during a 26-point loss to No. 1 ranked Florida. One difference between Martin's outbursts and Wojcik's were that the South Carolina coach's antics took place during a game for all the public to witness.
"I got myself in trouble for the choice of words I used," Martin said. "There's not a single coach in the world that at one time wishes they could take back something that they've said to a player. We've all said and done that. We've all had instances where we wish we could take things back. It's the heat of the moment. It's a competition. That doesn't make it right, but at the end of the day we're all human. Our mistakes are made in a competitive environment. It's never appropriate to cross the line and make it a personal battle."
Like Izzo, Gaudio has a personal connection to Wojcik. Gaudio, who was an assistant coach when Wojcik played at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling, W.Va., didn't defend his former players' behavior.
"I've known Doug for 33 years," Gaudio said. "Having said that, and I think Doug would admit it, when you read the report the things he said were highly inappropriate. I think that's really out of character for him."
Gaudio wouldn't speculate on Wojcik's future at the College of Charleston.
"I'm not that decision maker," Gaudio said. "What (Wojcik) needs to do now is modify his behavior and he has said that's what he's going to do. It seems to me that a penalty was handed down, he accepted, and you'd think everyone would move forward.
"All I know is if any relationship is going to work, it has to have foundation in trust. Does the College of Charleston trust (Wojcik) to be the leader of their program? It sounded like President Benson wanted him to be the face of their program, but it's going to come down to do they trust him to be their head basketball coach."
Former College of Charleston coach John Kresse declined to comment for this story. Former Cougars coach Bobby Cremins did not return phone calls.
South Carolina's Duane Notice gets an earful from coach Frank Martin after a turnover in the first period of their game against Florida at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC, Tuesday, March 4, 2014.×
Wake Forest's coach Dino Gaudio reacts to a call by the officials during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Clemson Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)×
Charleston coach Doug Wojcik yells out to his players during their game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at TD Arena. Paul Zoeller/Staff×
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