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Towson head coach accused of breaking rules and making offensive remarks
Lehigh fans, and certainly the Lehigh football coaching staff, know all about Rob Ambrose, the Towson football coach who took the program to new heights last season before Lehigh beat Towson in the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs in Maryland.
Without going into details, I can tell you that Ambrose wouldn’t win any popularity contests with the Lehigh people, or from what I understand, some of his counterparts in the CAA.
But now Ambrose is on the receiving end of some accusations from one of his former players, who went to the school newspaper to express his opinion.
Here’s the story from one of our sister newspapers in the Tribune family, the Baltimore Sun and veteran writer Don Markus:
October 23, 2012|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun
A year after being celebrated as one of the top college football coaches in the country, Towson’s Rob Ambrose has been accused by a disgruntled former player of breaking NCAA rules and making offensive remarks to help pump up his team in a pre-game pep talk earlier this season.
In a letter to the school newspaper, The Towerlight, Trevor Walker wrote that Ambrose lied to the athletic department’s compliance officer about the number of hours the team practiced this summer and that the fourth-year coach used inappropriate language on many occasions, including before a game against St. Francis last month.
Walker, a senior defensive back from Bensalem, Pa., also wrote that defensive coordinator Matt Hachmann cursed at him earlier this month after Walker went to the coach’s office to ask him about his diminished role.
Towson athletic director Mike Waddell said in an e-mail to the newspaper that his compliance officers conducted an investigation.
“No improprieties regarding practice times were found and no findings indicated that the physical well-being of football student-athletes was placed in jeopardy,” Waddell said in the e-mail. “As a matter of departmental protocol, the language that was reportedly used between the coaches and student-athletes would not be in line with the core values of Towson University and Towson Athletics. This is being addressed with all parties involved, coaches, staff and student-athletes.”
A part-time starter at linebacker in 2010 when the Tigers finished 1-10, Walker missed last season’s turnaround because of an injury. Towson finished 9-3 and made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time. Walker was moved to the secondary this season, but played in just one of the team’s first seven games.
The letter, which came after Walker was dismissed from the team by Ambrose, detailed an account of what Walker said was Ambrose’s filing incorrect practice and meeting times with the athletic department’s compliance offiers. Walker said that Ambrose and his staff exceeded the five hours a day deemed allowable by the NCAA.
Walker also paraphrased his coach’s pre-game speech.
“‘I do not care what your religion is,’” Walker wrote that Ambrose said. “‘I do not care if I offend anyone. But even if Jesus and his disciples come in here on Saturday, we are going to [expletive] them up and get them the [expletive] out of here.’”
Walker added that the statement “offended many players on the team especially those with strong Christian beliefs,” adding that “there are many other questionable things said we believe are crossing the line of ethics.”
The allegations made by Walker, who said that his complaint to university officials was signed by roughly two dozen other players, came after star tailback Terrance West tweeted a comment after being held out of last Saturday’s 31-20 loss at home to Old Dominion, implying to some that he was going to leave the school.
The tweet — “It’s been good Towson!!!!” — has since been taken down and an athletic department spokesman said Tuesday that West (Northwestern) remains on the team. Towson (3-4) plays at Villanova on Saturday.
West, who won the Jerry Rice Award last season as the nation’s top freshman in FCS, was reported to have sat out the game because of a death in the family.
Ambrose, who was rewarded with a contract extension after last season, when he was given the Eddie Robinson Award as the top coach in the FCS, did not return telephone calls from The Baltimore Sun seeking comment.
By Keith Groller, The Morning Call and Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun