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The Iron Curtain Known as Ball State Athletics

When it comes to transparency with the public Ball State takes after Moscow.

The resignation of Kelly Packard on March, 21 was deeply troubling and not because of the event itself but by how administration handled the situation.

Here is the news release from Tom Collins.

“I respect Kelly’s unforced decision to step down as the head women’s basketball coach at Ball State University,” said Collins. “Kelly has represented Ball State University with class and dignity, and has been a great role model for her student-athletes. Her leadership has provided her players with a solid foundation for success following their collegiate careers. She has been a great member of the Ball State Athletics family, and we wish her and her family the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

The word “unforced” is the key.

Even my 83-year-old grandma thinks that is bogus.

How many resignations occur in sports where the athletic department places no pressure on the coach to find a new place of employment?

Not many.

The only one at Ball State that I can think of is, ironically, Packard’s predecessor Tracy Roller.

The few times where coaches resign without pressure from the athletic department usually involves health reasons and that does not apply to Packard as far as we know.

Instead of being transparent Ball State chose to present a weather balloon story. Packard declined interviews with the Star Press which again is weird. Whatever happened between Packard and Collins we do not know? What I do know is it is tough to buy the department’s story of events.

Packard’s departure is justified. Two straight seasons of 9-21 turns fans away faster than someone passing gas in a car.

Still, why did this go down in such a mysterious manner?

Who thought Russia and Ball State sports would have common ground? I guess that is better than having common ground with the Jamaican Bobsled team.

In the fall of 2009, Packard was the only coach Collins could point to and say “What a good hire I made.” The women’s team won the MAC tournament for the first time in school history and beat Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA. The joke among some Daily News sports writers was Collins kissed a picture of Packard before he went to bed each night as she was the only one keeping fan support alive for him.

Days earlier Collins announced the decision to bring back Billy Taylor with vague justification for doing so. If Collins wanted Packard back he would have given her the same endorsement at the same time of Taylor’s. That alone means Packard was pressured to leave. Rather than stay in limbo she chose the only option she could.

Yet the athletic department still had the nerve to say it was “unforced.”

At the very least, Packard was pressured in such an indirect way with the endorsement of Taylor and no mention of her status.

Compared to Packard, Taylor has the same if not less of a defense for keeping his job.

The men’s team folded in 2012. They had talent but did not reach potential.

Packard’s teams the last two years were the opposite; lack of talent but hard-working.

Packard missed on her first few recruiting classes but appeared to get better with freshman and sophomores earning starts. Packard could at least make the argument that when the younger players matured her team could make a run at the MAC again.

Taylor could not even say that. This was his mature team as seniors Jarrod Jones and Randy Davis are abandoning ship.

Every news release from the athletic department seems to raise more questions than answers and even worse, comes across as arrogant.

Does the department truly believe that fans will buy into Packard resigning without pressure to do so?

Does the department truly believe that fans will buy into one more year of Taylor because he has good APR scores?

Does the department truly believe that serving a dish of horse manure to fans will not have any repercussions in terms of booster dollars and attendance?

Sign me up to the Cardinal Varsity Club now!

Sure, the athletic department has been burned by the media in the past but getting revenge on the Muncie Star Press for negative coverage (or what they think is negative coverage) is not going make things better. If a media outlet screws you over simply go to an alternate. I heard a blog called overthepylon.net would be more than willing to lend a hand.

I sure hope the new athletic director opens the department to the outside world. I am tired of coaching decisions going down as if the CIA is wire tapping all the phones in 47360 ZIP code.

Until then, it is a beautiful spring day here in Moscow, Indiana.

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3 Responses

  1. Does TC not have someone proof his statements? As soon as I read this the other day, “unforced” stuck out like a sore thumb. If two people agreed that was the right choice of words, they should both be fired. Things like this are not that complicated.

  2. Kelly was rebuilding. Period. TC wanted instant gratification.

  3. The fact that this story says that the women’s team lacked talent and worked hard proves that this is yet another awful report. If you know anything about the game of basketball then you would understand that Kelly is an above average recruiter and brought in very good talent. However, she was not able to bring out the highest potential and the girls DO NOT work hard…period! Blaming all of this on Coach Packard is what an average reporter does; that’s why she made really good money and reporters are still writing as spectators.

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