Halftime sit-in likely for Morgan players Bears await review of charges vs. Diggs

November 21, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

A protest is expected today by Morgan State football players, who met yesterday with the university's president to discuss their complaints against coach Ricky Diggs.

On Wednesday, the Morgan State administration received a petition signed by 69 players calling for Diggs' ouster after today's 1:30 p.m. season finale against Bethune-Cookman at Hughes Stadium. More than 50 players met yesterday with Dr. Earl S. Richardson for 15 minutes, and neither the players nor the university's president would comment afterward.

The petition said that if the players' demands were not met or ignored, they would stage a sit-in at halftime of today's game.

Besides calling for Diggs to be relieved of his duties as coach, the players' petition included the demand that Elizabeth Stearns be reinstated as academic adviser for football, and that defensive coordinator L. C. Cole be elevated to head coach. The petition also said that if the demands are not met, the players will not play in 1993.

Stearns, the Morgan State athletic department's academic coordinator, has filed a charge of verbal harassment with the universityagainst Diggs, who has retained legal counsel to defend himself against Stearns' charges. He would not comment on the charges, nor on the players revolt.

When asked if he had any disagreements with Diggs, Cole said, "He [Diggs] would know more about that than me." Cole was a finalist for the vacant Morgan State head coaching position that Diggs won in February 1991.

Dr. Raymond Downs, the vice president for student affairs, said he will begin to review the complaints and charges next week.

"As I told the players on Wednesday, I will begin my review next Monday," Dr. Downs said. "It is really a personnel problem that's impacted on the athletes and the team. We need to review the difficulties between some employees and their work relationship. get information about those individuals next week."

Sixty players attended a workout at Hughes Stadium at 4 p.m. yesterday, an hour after more than 50 players met with Richardson.

Before and after their meeting with the president, the players gathered briefly in a room at the McKeldin Center. Junior wide receiver Dante Carter was among those instructing others not to comment to the media. "We'll make comments tomorrow [today]," Carter said.

Some players who did not attend the meeting with Richardson were in classes. Punter Mike Andrews was taking an exam, and said he had wanted to attend the meeting.

Among those who were at the meeting, some were angered by the protest. One, who asked not to be identified, said: "It's a shame what they're [the players] doing. I don't even know if I want to play in the game [against Bethune-Cookman] now."

In petitioning for Diggs' removal as coach, the players say that Diggs shows favoritism to certain players, that he places himself above the team and that "they were afraid to talk to him for fear of being humiliated and embarrassed."

When Diggs was hired last year, it was the ninth head coaching change at Morgan State since 1974. His first team won only one game, but the Bears were 2-2 after an Oct. 3 victory at Buffalo. They have lost six straight.

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