TOM DAVIS: Northwestern coach Chris Collins is latest in line of disingenuous characters in college athletics

Northwestern men's basketball coach Chris Collins looks on in the second half of a game against Purdue in West Lafayette Sunday. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) shoots over Northwestern center Dererk Pardon (5) in the first half of a game in West Lafayette Sunday. (By The Associated Press)
Northwestern center Dererk Pardon (5) celebrates in the second half of a game against Purdue in West Lafayette Sunday. (By The Associated Press)
Northwestern men's basketball coach Chris Collins shouts to his team in the second half of a game against Purdue in West Lafayette Sunday. (By The Associated Press)

WEST LAFAYETTE – There are several aspects of life in which middle age allows you the opportunity to become more tolerant.

You no longer fret over the notion of losing your hair, you become more accepting of the fact that your back will hurt in the morning, and reality hits you that the only women that will ever find you attractive again are either visually impaired or eligible to join AARP – or both.

But one thing that isn’t more tolerable for me, at 51 years of age, is dishonesty.

Having raised three teenagers, having listened to our nation’s leader spout blatant lies (sometimes on an hourly basis), AND having to cover college athletics, which is one of the less reputable businesses you can work in, I find myself sick and tired of having to sort through garbage to find the accuracy in subject matters.

College coaches painting a misleading picture occurs with regularity, but on Sunday, Northwestern men’s basketball coach Chris Collins took dishonesty to a Trumpian-like level.

Collins was frustrated following a loss at Purdue in which the Boilermakers had gotten to the free throw line 24 times to the Wildcats’ five, and maybe he was justified in that angst. However, what he did next wasn’t excusable.

“I’ve got to make it quick,” Collins told the media gathered in the bowels of Mackey Arena for the postgame news conference. “(Northwestern center) Derek Pardon is getting stitches from (Purdue center Isaac Haas) putting his elbow in his face, so I’ve got to get back there.”

It was unclear as to why Collins had “to get back there” so promptly, perhaps it was because he was part of the Northwestern medical staff. If he would have claimed to have been, it wouldn’t have topped the whopper that he had just told.

As it turned out, a few minutes following Collins’ statement, The Daily Northwestern sports reporter Ben Pope reemerged into the media room after speaking with Pardon on the Mackey Arena court, where he had gathered with members of his family. Pope told those of us in the room that he had spoken with the Wildcat player and he had no stitches, nor any sign of bleeding, nor any awareness of what Collins was talking about.

Immediately after making the initial lie, Collins was given the opportunity to clarify the situation, but again, he added more fraudulent fuel to an already burning pile of b.s.

“Are you kidding about Derek,” a reporter followed up with Collins.

“No, he was bleeding,” Collins continued. “Haas made a post move and put his elbow right through his mouth. But I guess that we didn’t want to check the monitor for that one.”

I have had the privilege of dealing with Collins on a number of occasions during his tenure at Northwestern, and truth be told (I have ZERO reason to be dishonest here); I have loved dealing with him.

Collins has done a fantastic job, at a fantastic university, and made the Wildcats into a fantastic program. But publicly being untruthful is crossing an ethical line, and unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly separate him from others in his profession.

There are reasons as to why the NCAA manual is as thick as a metropolitan phone book, just like there are reasons as to why that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently triple-teaming the sport of college basketball with an on-going investigation into corruption.

If the people involved in intercollegiate athletics were more credible, perhaps they wouldn’t need such oversight. However, acts such as Collins’ unfortunately are becoming the norm in a society, not just that industry, in which being a man of your word has delved from a requirement into a convenient option.

At 43 years of age, perhaps Collins hasn’t reached the point in his life where, like me, is just too old and tired to deal with the crap that people often hand them. Hopefully, that day will come, but as long as he remains a college coach, and as long as he acts like he did Sunday, I’m going to be skeptical.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Tom Davis at Tdavis@news-sentinel.com.


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