Diggs staying, gets reprimand Morgan coach wins control of program

November 25, 1992|By Paul McMullen and Mike Preston | Paul McMullen and Mike Preston,Staff Writers

Ricky Diggs won control of the Morgan State football program yesterday, but he also was given a written reprimand from the university and told to change the way he treats his players.

A week ago today, a petition signed by 69 players called for Diggs to be removed as head coach and be replaced by defensive coordinator L. C. Cole. Yesterday the university's administration gave Diggs the power to hire, fire or transfer assistants. Changes on his staff, which was divided by disagreements between Diggs and Cole, are expected.

"Ricky Diggs is the head football coach," said Raymond Downs, the vice president for student affairs. "He's in charge of the football program. The head coach will review the performances of coaches and working relationships and make some decisions about that."

Diggs said that he had not made any decisions on the makeup of his coaching staff.

When Cole was asked if he was going to be fired or if he would resign, he said, "There are other jobs."

In response to a complaint of verbal harassment lodged against Diggs by academic coordinator Elizabeth Stearns, Morgan State gave Diggs a written reprimand. Stearns said that she still may take her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"I wanted three things," Stearns said. "A letter of reprimand placed in his [Diggs'] file. Second, I also wanted apologies from the institution, which I won't get, and Diggs. I also wanted a three- to five-day suspension for Ricky."

Regarding the complaints in the players' petition about Diggs' mistreatment of players, a statement read by Downs said "the administration has discussed its concern with Coach Diggs."

Downs added: "The perception is that the coach, in his communication with them [players], was not supportive, was rather abrasive. If that's the perception, it has to be dealt with."

When asked if the complaints would change his style, Diggs said: "No. This has made me more cognizant [of complaints about his work with players], but I have always been a disciplinarian and always will.

"It's time to put this all behind us now, and dwell on the good things that happened this season. It's full-speed ahead [recruiting] as of the first of next week. I don't know if this has hurt our recruiting. Only time will tell. But it is not a restriction we can't overcome."

Diggs spoke after he met with approximately 40 to 50 players and then with assistant coaches Bubba Green and Earl Davis. The Bears had 60 players at practice Friday, the day before a threatened sit-in by the players led to the administration's forfeiting the season-ending game to Bethune-Cookman.

Several players said that others had gone home for Thanksgiving.

"A lot of players have talked about transferring, but I don't know if they will," said Dante Carter, a junior wide receiver who was one of the six players who met with Downs Monday. "Right now, I have no feeling about Coach Diggs' return. I guess everything will be all right. Things can only get better."

"It doesn't matter what happens, if guys transfer or not, I'll be back," said sophomore offensive guard Ernest Johnson. "I felt Coach Diggs was going to return after the players' meetings with administrators last week.

"I've always felt Coach Diggs was a good coach and that he prepared us well," Johnson said. "I never went into a game feeling we didn't have a chance to win. We are a team that was very close to turning it around, so close, and then it all seemed to fall apart. Now I just hope we all can get it going again from here."

Fred Kaiss, a part-time assistant coach who sided with Cole and whose contract expires Dec. 1, thought the administration erred in retaining Diggs.

TC "They're making a big mistake," Kaiss said. "Since the players made a stand, I got the impression that if they [the administration] did what the players wanted, they would look bad. They [the administration] were more worried about how they would look."

Official statement from Morgan State

It is perhaps an understatement to say that the University regrets the events of the past week, but those things often times happen even with our best efforts. There is no question that the football team has shown remarkable improvement over the last two years, improvements far greater than the win/loss record would suggest. We are very pleased with that progress and we consider the recent incident to be only a minor distraction on our way to much greater things.

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