University of Montana football coach Bobby Hauck is no fan of the press, or at least not press that actually does its job by asking questions. But whether or not that’s an appropriate attitude for the leader of the highest-profile sports team in the state, his recent behavior towards the UM student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, is downright embarrassing. If he can’t grow up, he needs to find a new job.
Back in September, as you may recall, the Kaimin reported (accurately) that two UM football players had been involved in a serious assault on another student, and the incident was kept quiet by the team and UM officials. The paper also pointed out (accurately) that this was the latest in a long series of violent off-the-field incidents involving football players, and called for more accountability and transparency.
Enraged that the Kaimin had the nerve to report on something he did not want reported, Hauck swore at the Kaimin reporter and threatened to ban him from covering the team, stating “You’re done for the day, and you’ll be done for the season if you keep bugging me abut this thing that I’ve answered four fucking times.” This from someone who is supposed to be a leader, an educator and a role model, and is after all an employee of the state of Montana.
At the insistence of top UM officials, Hauck grudgingly apologized for the obscenity – though not, notably, for his contemptuous and bullying attitude. Since then, according to a Kaimin editorial and a story in today’s Missoulian, Hauck has continued to insult and belittle Kaimin reporters, and may have ordered his players not to talk to the paper.
According to the Missoulian:
“At a recent weekly news conference, a Kaimin reporter asked Hauck whether he was going to continue rotating quarterbacks.”You want something from me now?” replied Hauck. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” A Missoulian sportswriter immediately followed up with the same question, to which Hauck provided an answer. At the following week’s news conference, the Kaimin reporter again asked a question – this one on how the Grizzly defense would defend against the speed of an opposing running back. Hauck’s reply: “I’ll give you this, you’re persistent. Who’s next?”
I’m offended that my tax dollars (and ticket purchases) would go to pay the salary of someone so petty and vindictive, regardless of the team’s record. I’d actually like to go to the game today against Eastern Washington – it should be a good one – but Hauck’s ridiculous behavior makes me decidedly less enthusiastic about Griz football.
The Missoulian, interestingly, initially responded to all of this with what amounted to an apologia for Hauck and his nominal boss, athletic director Jim O’Day. But when last week’s game-day edition of the Kaimin featured a story on an opposing coach, that apparently prompted a new look at the issue – and not from the sports department, but from reporter Chelsi Moy, herself a one-time Kaimin reporter.
Kudos to the Missoulian for taking on the issue, and kudos to the Kaimin for standing up to Hauck. It’s way past time for the coach, and the University, to act in a similarly responsible fashion.