Pitt fires Haywood as football coach
College Football Videos
The University of Pittsburgh fired football coach Mike Haywood on Saturday, just 24 hours after he was jailed on a charge of assaulting the mother of his 21-month-old child.
"Head coaches are among the university's most visible representatives and are expected to maintain high standards of personal conduct and to avoid situations that might reflect negatively on the university," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "(The firing) reflects a strong belief that moving forward with Mr. Haywood as our head coach is not possible under the existing circumstances."
Police in Indiana charged Haywood, 46, with misdemeanor domestic battery Friday after an altercation at a home in South Bend. Police upgraded the charge to felony domestic battery in the presence of a minor. St. Joseph County police said an unnamed woman accused Haywood of choking her during a dispute over their son. The woman had marks on her neck, arms and back, police said.
Haywood professed his innocence in a telephone interview yesterday with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after posting $1,000 bond and leaving St. Joseph County Jail.
"It isn't fair," Haywood said shortly before Nordenberg fired him. "The truth will eventually come out."
The arrest is an embarrassment for Pitt because Haywood, at the Dec. 16 announcement of his hiring, promised to teach his players to "be men of values, to be men of trust, to be men of integrity."
Under coach Dave Wannstedt, four players were arrested last year and two the year before. One was freshman defensive back Jeff Knox, who was accused in September of assaulting a woman who claimed to be pregnant with his baby.
"When you go to the core of what a university is, (Pitt) absolutely did the right thing," said Mike Paul, president of MGP and Associates, a New York City-based crisis-management firm.
"You've got to think from their perspective," Paul said. "They get phone calls from key stakeholders who have given large amounts of money to the university. There are women on the board, and men and women at the university who believe domestic violence is bad. There are fellow coaches (at Pitt) who believe it would be setting a bad precedent to have a coach with a track record of domestic violence and on and on."
Haywood was coach for 17 days and agreed to a contract believed to be worth about $1 million annually over five years.
ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, who coached Haywood for one season at Notre Dame, spoke glowingly of his former player after the hiring at Pitt. He was shocked to learn about the arrest.
"The Mike Haywood I know, that was not his type of behavior," Holtz said. "I followed him as a player and an assistant coach, and he had a great track record."
Jonathan Bernstein, the president of Bernstein Crisis Management in California, said dismissing a coach or employee so soon after an alleged incident is legally "tricky."
"But the fact that he was recently hired and wasn't really (well-known), it allowed them to act more boldly," Bernstein said. "The school may still have to deal with an embarrassing lawsuit if he is found not guilty."
Nordenberg said the university would broaden its scope and move "swiftly but prudently" in conducting an immediate search for its next coach.
Before hiring Haywood, Athletic Director Steve Pederson said a consulting firm gave him two lists of candidates' names — college head coaches and college assistants. Pederson had said he ruled out the assistants.
Fans yesterday clamored for not only Haywood's firing but also Pederson's.
"Steve Pederson made a statement that he was above reproach," said Rick Abrams, 64, of Shadyside, who graduated from Pitt in 1968. "It seems he's fallen below reproach, precipitously. ... My suggestion would be to make Wannstedt the A.D., and let him call (Penn State defensive coordinator) Tom Bradley about the coaching job."
Bradley, in Tampa, Fla., for the Outback Bowl, has not been contacted for the job.
Pitt spokesman E.J. Borghetti said Pederson "has played a key role in elevating Pitt's athletic programs, remains an important member of the university's senior leadership team and continues to enjoy the full support of the chancellor."
Pitt students and alumni support the decision to fire Haywood.
"It would set a horrible precedent to let him coach there," said Pitt senior Ashley Walter, 21.
Mike Lewis, a 1994 Pitt graduate from Indiana, Pa., said the school had no choice.
"He would have been a total distraction, and the coach is supposed to represent the values of the school," Lewis said.
Senior offensive lineman Jason Pinkston criticized the university on Twitter, a social-networking site, for forcing Wannstedt to resign.
"They fired all the wrong people!!! Now look at us whats the next step for the young freshman and soph on the team!" Pinkston wrote. "What direction do we go now!"
Administrators who hired Haywood need to be held accountable, said Paul, the crisis-management expert.
"How do I feel secure as a member of the (Pitt) community that you won't be picking someone like this again?" he said. "They need to assure everyone that they will have stricter guidelines, and this wasn't something that was just overlooked."Additional Information:
The Mike Haywood file
College: Notre Dame (1986)
Coaching experience: 2009-10: Miami (Ohio) head coach, 11-15 record, 2010 Mid-American Conference champions, school's first since 2003; 2005-08: Notre Dame, offensive coordinator and running backs coach; 2003-04: Texas, running backs coach; 1995-2002: Louisiana State, running backs coach
Other experience: Ball State (1993-94), Ohio (1991-92) and Army (1989-90)
Accomplishments: Named assistant coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association in 2005
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Two dead in apparent murder-suicide in North Oakland
- PennDOT says inbound Fort Pitt Tunnel will close around-the-clock this weekend
- 3 in Westmoreland charged in prescription narcotics operation
- Highmark members to keep maternity care at Magee in 2015
- Starkey: What are Penguins, Pirates up to?
- Young Hempfield swimmers look to make impact at WCCA meet
- Special Olympians to take to center court at Pitt-Greensburg
- Greensburg Salem swimmers preparing for WPIAL meet
- Porterfield: Donegal Christian school plans blood drive
- Pitt’s 2015 schedule includes 5 road games in 1st 7 games
- Southwest Greensburg girl works to get 5,000 boxes of cookies donated