The University of Oklahoma football team, a perennial power accustomed to battling for national championships, now is fighting for dignity during an outbreak of criminal allegations that won't seem to go away.
Preliminary and detention hearings were scheduled today for starting quarterback Charles Thompson, who was arrested Monday by FBI agents on a Jan. 26 federal complaint of selling cocaine to an undercover agent.The governor of Oklahoma says he's disgusted, the other players say they're shocked. And the second largest newspaper in the state is calling for Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer to resign.
"Nothing less than a new start under new leadership can restore confidence and pride in OU football. Nothing less, in fact, can save the University of Oklahoma from becoming a national laughingstock," said a Tulsa World editorial in Wednesday's editions.
Switzer listed the players who recently have been arrested and said: "Barry Switzer should resign because of what they did? No more than I think their mothers and fathers should go to prison to serve their sentences," Switzer told the Oklahoma News Network.
Five players have been suspended since the NCAA announced its 3-year probation on Dec. 19 - three after rape charges, one after shooting a teammate and Thompson. The NCAA also chastized Switzer for failure to "exercise supervisory control" over the program.
"I've never been too lax on them, but I've given kids a second chance," Switzer said. "There have been a lot that I gave a second chance and they graduated and did well. No one knows about that."
Gov. Henry Bellmon said he was surprised and disgusted upon learning of Thompson's arrest. The governor said the recent spate of incidents make it "fairly obvious" that "something is wrong" within the football program.
The Tulsa Tribune also had called for Switzer's resignation following the NCAA probation, but Swank said Switzer's job is not in jeopardy.