Morgan St. fires Cole, 5 assistants Diggs keeps only two after power struggle

December 03, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

The Morgan State football staff is down to head coach Ricky Diggs and two assistants. The contracts of five part-time assistants were not renewed, and assistant head coach L. C. Cole was relieved of his duties.

Disagreements between Diggs and Cole were at the core of a player revolt that led to a petition calling for Diggs to be removed as head coach and replaced by Cole. On Nov. 24, the university's administration backed Diggs, giving him control of the program.

Raymond Downs, the vice president for student affairs, said: "He [Cole] has been given a termination letter, with the details to be worked out."

Cole, who carried the titles of assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, said he was "still trying to work some things out [with the administration]. At this stage, I can't disclose what they are."

Cole has a contract with Morgan State that runs through June, and on Monday he led four players through a workout for a scout from the Cleveland Browns.

While Cole continued declining to comment on a rift between he and Diggs, one of the former part-time coaches questioned the moves.

"I was released the day before yesterday, and I don't think it was justified," said graduate assistant coach Willie Jones. "He [Diggs] told me that my staying on wasn't in the best interests of the program. Basically, he felt I was a threat. I consider myself an asset to the university."

Jones played linebacker for the Bears from 1987 to 1990. His contract and those of four other assistants -- Steve Cole (L. C. Cole's brother), Fred Kaiss, Andre Creamer and Donald Beasley -- expired Nov. 30 and will not be renewed. Bubba Green and Earl Davis remain on the Morgan State staff.

Although Diggs must hire some new assistant coaches, he said he's also trying to determine the impact of events in the past two weeks, which included Morgan State's forfeit of its Nov. 21 season finale to Bethune-Cookman. Fifty-seven players have signed up for interviews with Diggs that began Tuesday and should be completed by tomorrow.

"This isn't something new," Diggs said. "We do this after the season and after spring practice."

The players' petition listed 10 charges against Diggs. Most were general complaints about the way he treats his players, but three named specific instances of alleged mistreatment. One incident involved receiver James Perkins, one of the players who met with Diggs yesterday.

Perkins disagreed with a statement in the players' petition that said Diggs told him after he dropped a pass: "You had your opportunity, and you blew it. You'll never play again."

"The petition wasn't accurate," said Perkins, a freshman from Fort Washington. "At South Carolina State, he was angry when I dropped a pass, and it was a tense situation. He [Diggs] said something to the extent of 'That's why we don't throw to you.' At Howard, I dropped a pass, and he told me I was through for the game.

"He's trying to make you better, but his way of hyping people up can be seen as vindictive. I don't know how it's going to turn out here, but I think we'll be able to talk to him now. It's still not at the point where people go to him and speak freely about their problems, but he's changed. He's gotten better."

In meetings so far, Diggs said, none of the players has said he plans to transfer, but wide receiver Jesse Humphrey said: "Morale is down a little. You hear rumors of people leaving, but I don't think there will be as many guys leaving as the gossip says."

While Diggs tries to repair relations with his players, other I-AA coaches are out recruiting.

"I've got to take care of things at home first," Diggs said. "I feel we're behind in recruiting, but it's early. No one could talk to players personally until yesterday [Tuesday] anyway, and next week we'll go full tilt."

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