The Rodriguez-WVU saga just got very, very ugly, and it goes much deeper than simply losing a coach.
In an article this morning in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, retired Fidelity COO (and WVU alum/donor) Bob Reynolds publicly shanks Ed Pastilong over the handling of the Rodriguez "situation." Apparently, what once looked like a power play on Rodriguez's part may have been the exact opposite.
"I tell you what, I've never seen anything mishandled as much as this was," Bob Reynolds, former chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments, said yesterday. "Here's a university that made a $200,000 decision -- it probably could've cost less than that [to keep Mr. Rodriguez] -- and it's going to cost them millions" in booster support, potential bowl money and revenue from football success.
In fact, it looks like it's going to cost West Virginia much, MUCH more. If these donors stick to their guns, the athletic department coffers could be out more than $12 million in donations. And that's just from Mr. Reynolds:
Mr. Reynolds declined to discuss it, but one source said he informed university officials yesterday that he planned to withdraw $12 million in donations he pledged to the school.
"I've had calls from at least six major contributors to the program, and they're all done [donating] because they know the Mickey Mouse things that have gone on there," Mr. Reynolds continued. "I've been in business 36 years, and it's the worst business decision I've ever seen. I've been the COO of a 45,000-person company. When somebody's producing, you ask, 'What can I do for you to make your life better?' Not 'What can I do to make your life more miserable?' They have no idea how big this is. It's frightening."
Add on top of that possibly lost donations from Ken Kendrick of the Arizona Diamondbacks:
Earl G. "Ken" Kendrick Jr., a part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and benefactor to the WVU College of Business and Economics and other colleges in his home state, said: "I'm severely disappointed in leadership. I'm discouraged by the decision-making and lack of judgment. And the lack of respect for key employees -- because this isn't just about Rich, he's just the most high-profile one. It's a sad story. It's compelling to me as somebody who's given emotional and financial support to the university. And it makes it questionable to me as I go forward."
Well shit. Fuck. Damn. Hell. Balls. Celine Dion. This sucks.
While this certainly does not forgive Rodriguez for leaving his alma mater, it certainly gives a view into his decision to leave. To be honest, if I was one of the top coaches in America and I thought I was being shit on by my athletic department, I might feel justified in leaving, too.
Basically, it comes down to this: Ed Pastilong needs to be fired. Mike Parsons needs to be fired. Any other athletic department administrator that was involved in this fiasco needs to be fired. To allow something like this to unravel so quickly says a lot about the discord in big-time WVU sports. The writing is on the wall. This is a decision that has to be made. Fire Pastilong and recover the trust of these donors. They are worth far more to the future of Mountaineer athletics than Ed Pastilong.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure if that is likely to happen. If President David Hardesty were still in charge -- a tenured man with very little goals past being President -- I think it might happen tomorrow. With a new president, however, that trigger finger might get stuck.
Here's hoping that it doesn't.