Doug Wojcik's behavior during his two-year tenure as the head basketball coach at the College of Charleston has been unacceptable. Let's get that stated right out of the gate.
A 50-page report released late last week detailed how Wojcik verbally abused 12 current and former players by utilizing threats, insulting family members and significant others, and on at least one occasion by using a homophobic slur. Wojcik vehemently denies the last accusation, but even if the allegations in the report are only, say, half accurate, this is still intolerable conduct from a man making more than $400,000 a year, and who couldn't possibly have zero knowledge of situations like the end of the Mike Rice era at Rutgers.
But despite the numerous reports to the contrary, Wojcik says he isn't going anywhere.
"I'm sincerely remorseful and apologize to those I've hurt," Wojcik said in a statement released to ESPN. "I've already started making amends and working on correcting my actions. The College and I are grateful these concerns were brought to our attention, and every effort will be made to improve relations between myself and all members of the men's basketball program."
While the sincerity of Wojcik's words can be debated, it's pretty clear that his resolve is rooted in more than just the desire to keep his job and better himself as a person. You see, Doug Wojcik was wildly unpopular in Charleston before any of this stuff started, a fact almost certainly not lost on the coach himself.
To most Cougar hoops fans, John Kresse still is Charleston basketball. He led the program to an NAIA national title in 1983, and then guided it into Division-I a decade later. When Charleston finally landed in the Atlantic Sun in 1994, Kresse cashed in by taking the Cougs to the NCAA Tournament right away. After back-to-back NIT appearances, Charleston returned to the big dance in 1997, where they stunned Maryland in the first round to notch the biggest victory in program history. When he called it a career in 2002, Kresse left Charleston with a national championship, four NCAA Tournament appearances, 560 wins and a reputation for always doing things the right way.
After a dark three-seasons under Tom Herrion, legendary coach Bobby Cremins took over and immediately re-instilled the same air around the program that was present when Kresse was in charge. He always said the right things, his players conducted themselves with class, and he won...a lot.
A graduate of the Naval Academy who has always had something of a "bully" reputation, Wojcik is about the furthest thing possible from Cremins and Kresse. This remains his biggest problem even after the release of the 50-page report.
The winningest coach in the history of Tulsa basketball, Wojcik was fired by athletic director Ross Parmley in 2012 due to a combination of drastically dwindling ticket sales and the fact that Wojcik hadn't been able to get the Golden Hurricanes over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament. He landed in Charleston where he handled the task of replacing the beloved Cremins with skill initially, winning 24 games and taking the Cougars to the CBI. Still, his on-court and off-court demeanor rubbed fans the wrong way, and the concerns over his behavior grew louder as Charleston struggled through a 14-18 campaign and a sixth-place finish in the CAA in 2013-14.
There's a trend in these verbal abuse cases that goes beyond the words said or the statements released, a trend which the situation at Charleston follows.
Rice was supposed to be the savior of Rutgers basketball, the guy who tenaciously recruited the Northeast and made the Scarlet Knights a player in the Big East. Instead, he failed to guide RU to a winning record in the three seasons that preceded his abuse scandal. In a similar case, Boston University women's coach Kelly Greenberg had never led the Terriers to a conference championship, and went just 13-20 the season before bullying accusations led to her dismissal. Even in what is still and will likely always be the most famous instance of player abuse, Bobby Knight wasn't let go at Indiana until he had suffered through six straight seasons without taking the Hoosiers past the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Surely at some point in the past couple of decades, a highly successful coach has said something to a player that would land the coach in hot water if released publicly. We don't hear about it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that the fans of those programs probably don't want to hear about it.
There has been a disconnect between Wojcik and the College of Charleston since day one of his regime, and reports that he told one player, "when you graduate, you might as well burn your degree because it's not worth anything" likely aren't going to help that. Still, you can't help but wonder if a few more wins in years one and two would have resulted in him getting more of the Frank Martin treatment than the Mike Rice.