For the second time in five years, UAB has hired a head football coach with a drunk-driving arrest on his record.
Should we be surprised? Given that Paul Bryant Jr., president pro tempore of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, has documented ties to a $15-million insurance fraud scheme . . . well, no, we should not be surprised. Why hold a football coach to high ethical standards when a company owned by the president of your board was implicated in a scam that netted one man a 15-year federal prison sentence?
Garrick McGee, offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas, is expected to be announced as UAB's new coach at a press conference today. Various news outlets reported over the weekend that McGee's hiring was set.
McGee replaces Neil Callaway, who was fired on November 27 after going 18-42 over five seasons. When UAB hired Callaway in December 2006, it received heat in the national press for hiring a coach with a DUI arrest in his background. Callaway pleaded guilty to drunk-driving charges while serving as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia in 2003.
So what did UAB do? It hired another coach with DUI problems.
McGee was arrested for driving under the influence in December 2007, according to a report from Sports by Brooks. What happened on the case? Brooks reports:
After initially being charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence stemming from a 2007 Christmas eve traffic stop, McGee pleaded guilty on March 21, 2008, to reckless driving according to Tulsa County court documents. McGee’s guilty plea for driving 16 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit was a $635 fine and 24 hours of community service.
McGee was an assistant coach at Northwestern University at the time of his arrest. It is common for prosecutors to accept a guilty plea for reckless driving on first-time DUI charges. But that has not been McGee's only brush with the law. Reports Brooks:
While a freshman quarterback for the Arizona State Sun Devils in 1991, McGee was charged with playing a role in three burglaries. He later pleaded guilty to theft, paid restitution and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
In the aftermath of those crimes, which were later documented in vigorous detail by the PHOENIX NEW TIMES, McGee transferred to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for one season before finishing his college football career at Oklahoma.
A reporter named Tom Fitzpatrick wrote the PHOENIX NEW TIMES piece, and Brooks says "it essentially amounted to an expose on McGee." The article certainly portrays McGee in less-than-glowing terms. Writes Fitzpatrick:
Let’s examine the events surrounding Arizona State University’s fleet-footed quarterback and admitted sneak thief, Garrick McGee.
Charles Harris, the slippery, smooth-talking athletic director at ASU, characterizes McGee as a fine young man guilty only of making some wrong decisions.
Harris and Bruce Snyder, the football coach, agree that McGee’s punishment for his crime wave along Mill Avenue in Tempe should be suspension from a single ASU football game. Incredibly, the weak-kneed president of the university, Lattie Coor, stands by and is unable to murmur even a word of dissent.
The state criminal code prescribes the penalty for the crimes to which McGee has confessed as five years in a state prison.
I apologize. I know your eyes must widen in disbelief when you read things like this.
McGee faced up to five years in state prison? And this is the guy UAB wants to direct its football program?
When your board of trustees is led by a man with undisputed ties to massive financial crimes, I guess anything is possible.
Has anyone in the University of Alabama System heard of vetting candidates for highly visible leadership positions? Apparently not.