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Thursday, December 25, 2014
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Published: Friday, 2/15/2013

No point in trying to hide the real story

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Idle thoughts from an idle mind, while grappling with the thought of no wrestling in the Olympics:

■ The truth always comes out, especially in this age of social media and open-records laws. Why schools and other entities clam up and circle the wagons, like the University of Toledo did in the recent case involving track and field/cross country director Kevin Hadsell, instead of simply coming clean always amazes me.

Hadsell had inappropriate relationships with female athletes. There. What’s so difficult about that? Instead, UT initially would say only that he violated school policy while insisting there were no NCAA violations, which may be true, and that it did not involve or reflect on the running program, which is untrue.

What UT’s typical approach – you might have thought it would have learned from the Gene Cross saga — invited was investigations by newspapers and Internet sites and, boy, did it get one of each. The Blade’s report landed on the front page and another was plastered as the lead item on Deadspin.com, which does not have to worry about such trivial things as good taste.

Hadsell’s behavior merited his being fired and had he not resigned that apparently would have been the outcome. It was a shameful end for a coach who built a tremendously successful program.

And it was another head-scratching example of the news being far more damaging to all involved — yes, even some athletes — than had the university been up-front from the start. Nothing can be swept under carpets these days.

■ Another school which did itself no favors of late was St. John’s Jesuit High School when it became known that varsity basketball coach Ed Heintschel had a drunk driving case pending from late November, 2012.

Heintschel, who has 600-plus wins over 34 seasons, is embarrassed and contrite and has said all the right things. He said he offered to resign in the immediate aftermath of being cited. I take no issue with St. John’s not accepting the offer. A suspension and public reprimand would have been appropriate and (see above) might have mitigated a lot of unwanted publicity.

Most inappropriate, though, was the school’s statement. It pointed out the incident did not occur during school hours or involve a school event — when you’ve been a teacher, counselor, and coach at a school for three decades-plus, you’re always on school time, like it or not — that it was in the court system, and that it was “supportive” of Heintschel.

The school offered no disappointment in his actions, no condemnation of driving under the influence, and failed to take advantage of a public teaching moment regarding teens, cars, alcohol, and drugs.

Maybe it isn’t a problem at St. John’s.

■ It’s a big hockey weekend in Toledo with Sunday’s Walleye alumni and ECHL games against Fort Wayne indoors at the Huntington Center.

Outdoors, the second UCT Winter Hockey Festival will take place at the ice rink at Ottawa Park on Saturday and Sunday. Played under the auspices of the American Special Hockey Association, the event features athletes with developmental disabilities.

Last year’s inaugural event featured teams from four states and Washington D.C., and this time will include players, ages 4-17, from the Black Swamp Ice Frogs, a Bowling Green-Toledo squad formed since last year’s festival.

For hard checks and fancy skating, we suggest the games at Huntington Center. For smiles and a warm feeling that might melt the ice, you can’t beat the festival at Ottawa Park.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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