Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Iowa State weighs discipline for Eustachy

The Des Moines Register

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy, the state's highest-paid public employee, told the school's president and athletic director that he used "poor judgment" and made "bad decisions" at an after-hours party in late January near the University of Missouri campus.

Bruce Van De Velde, Iowa State's athletic director, said Eustachy came to him and university President Gregory Geoffroy this month after learning that a student at the party had provided photographs of Eustachy to The Des Moines Register.

The 12 photographs show Eustachy (PHOTOS) during the early hours of Jan. 23, with beer, and in several photos embracing and kissing women on the cheek or being kissed on the cheek.

Eustachy, 47, went to the party at a student apartment with Missouri men's basketball player Josh Kroenke hours after the Cyclones lost, 64-59, to the Tigers in Columbia.

That wasn't Eustachy's first campus party after a road game, according to students in another Big 12 Conference town.

In January 2002, the coach spent the early morning at a fraternity party in Manhattan, Kan., hours after his team lost a game to Kansas State, students told the Register. On that occasion, a fraternity member said he wound up in an argument with Eustachy because he found the coach's arm around the student's 19-year-old sister.

Eustachy, who is paid more than $1 million annually, has a contract with Iowa State that runs through 2011 and stipulates he must provide "positive representation of the university and the university's athletic programs in private and public."

Eustachy declined requests for an interview. The Register contacted an Iowa State sports information official and Des Moines lawyer Jerry Crawford, Eustachy's legal representative, in an effort to secure comment from the coach.

Eustachy issued a statement Thursday in which he confirmed meeting with Geoffroy and Van De Velde.

"In the past, I have made some poor decisions that I regret," Eustachy, who is married and has two children, said in his statement. "I talked with President Geoffroy and Bruce Van De Velde last week about a variety of issues. I love Iowa State University and all the people who support our team. It's important to represent ISU in a manner that sheds a positive light on the university and the Cyclone men's basketball team."

Van De Velde declined to say whether disciplinary action has been taken or was pending against Eustachy. He also would not say whether the coach's actions could lead to his dismissal.

"Larry understands that he has made a poor decision and not used good judgment. He understands, and we have made it clear to him, the importance of his public image and the obligations he has for the institution. And he has expressed remorse . . . to our university administration and to me."

Eustachy, the Cyclones' coach for five seasons, has brought hard-edged and successful basketball to Iowa State. The coach who preaches toughness to his teams won back-to-back Big 12 Conference championships in 2000 and 2001, advancing to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight in 2000 when Eustachy was named national coach of the year.

But he also has shown combustible and unconventional characteristics. In a nationally televised Elite Eight game against Michigan State, he was ejected after receiving two technical fouls during a profanity-laced exchange with officials with 9.9 seconds left in the Spartans' 75-64 victory over the Cyclones. Days later, he apologized to Iowa State's players, fans, faculty and president.

Eustachy's activities in Columbia, Mo., became public days after the January game when a picture of the coach and a group of young adults was posted on a Missouri Tigers fan Web site.

The photographs were taken in an apartment in the campus town area of Columbia by Sean Devereaux, a junior English major at Missouri and resident of the apartment where the party was held. Devereaux mailed negatives of 12 images from the party to the Register in mid-March.

Neither Iowa State officials nor Eustachy, through Crawford, disputed the authenticity of the photographs.

Devereaux said he took the pictures because he wanted to show that Eustachy had been at a party. He said he later decided to make the pictures public because he was bothered by Eustachy's presence at the party for more than three hours, and by Eustachy's behavior.

Devereaux and Jay Buback, a former Missouri student and another resident of the apartment, provided nearly identical accounts of Eustachy's behavior at the party. Interviews with four other partygoers, including two of the women shown with Eustachy in Devereaux's photographs, supported their accounts.

Devereaux and Buback said that Eustachy:

• Arrived unexpectedly at the party between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. in the company of Kroenke, a junior guard on the Missouri basketball team. Van De Velde said Eustachy is a friend of Kroenke's father, Stan, owner of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. Devereaux and Buback estimated 50 to 75 people attended the party.

• Drank beer into the early-morning hours.

• Declined to leave the party around 3 a.m., despite being urged to leave by individuals who accompanied him.

• Became belligerent with one male partygoer, who objected to Eustachy's presence.

• Openly criticized the performance of his Cyclone basketball team in its loss to Missouri when asked about his team by those at the party.

• Left the party between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. after residents of the apartment called a taxi for him.

Neither Iowa State officials nor Crawford had any comment about the students' account.

A spokesman for Missouri's sports information department said Josh Kroenke confirmed running into Eustachy at a nearby campus tavern and going to the party with him. But Kroenke would not answer questions about their activities.

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