Ball State loses coaching candidate amid racism claims by ex-coach Print
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Tuesday, 07 August 2007 13:51
NCAAB Headline News


 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -A candidate for Ball State's basketball coaching job withdrew his name Tuesday as the school investigated former coach Ronny Thompson's claims that he worked in a hostile racial environment.
Thompson, who is black, went 9-22 in his only season before resigning last month amid accusations that he and his assistants broke NCAA rules - and just weeks after school officials said notes slipped under basketball office doors included racial slurs along with references to ``cheaters'' and ``liars.''
IUPUI coach Ron Hunter, who also is black, pulled out of consideration for the Ball State job on Tuesday. Hunter said he was aware of Thompson's claims about the racial climate.
``I did look into it a little bit, but that wasn't the reason I made the decision,'' Hunter told The Associated Press. ``I was a little concerned about the NCAA problems.''
Ball State spokesman Tony Proudfoot said the school had no timetable for the investigation to conclude. Thompson's Washington-based attorney, Matthew Keiser, said Monday that the campus police chief told him two weeks ago the investigation was nearly finished.
Proudfoot said two Ball State professors were studying whether the Muncie campus faced broader racial problems. That work is to be completed in December.
Thompson is a son of Hall of Fame coach John Thompson, who won a national championship in his 27 seasons at Georgetown. His brother, John III, led Georgetown to the Final Four last season.
``We take his concerns very seriously,'' Proudfoot said. ``Anything that coach Thompson mentioned as a concern, we are examining. We want to ensure that Ball State is a working place for all people.''
School officials have reported to the NCAA that Thompson and his staff broke rules by attending voluntary offseason workouts in both 2006 and 2007, then lied about their involvement this May.
Before Thompson resigned on July 13, Ball State received a letter dated two days earlier that asked the school to investigate new accusations surrounding the men's basketball program, including an allegation that the women's volleyball coach was fired for reporting basketball infractions.
Keiser said Thompson did not quit because of the investigation and that his resignation letter told Ball State officials of the ``racially hostile work environment'' he had faced.
Proudfoot said Ball State had hoped to resolve the issues with Thompson.
``We worked very hard to be supportive of coach Thompson,'' Proudfoot said. ``We were disappointed that he didn't give the university the opportunity to resolve the concerns before he chose to leave.''
Proudfoot said he did not have information on other candidates in the coaching search or when a hiring decision might be made. Hunter is 207-173 in 13 seasons at IUPUI and led the Indianapolis school to its only NCAA tournament appearance in 2003.
 

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