By Colin Fly
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — University of Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach Lance Leipold apologized Thursday for his expletive-laced remarks and decision to bar student reporters after a scathing campus editorial.
“I’m passionate about our program and how it’s perceived. The bad thing about it is my poor reaction and language,” Leipold told The Associated Press by phone. “That’s a huge mistake on my part. I’ve embarrassed our program and our university.”
Leipold, who is preparing to coach his third year at one of the top Division III football programs in the nation that sits just south of the midpoint between Madison and Milwaukee (college site here), blistered a student editor with an expletive-laced rant after an editorial in the Royal Purple (linked here).
The article, titled “Spoiled athletes need reality check,” discussed a campus incident in which a police officer was called to the weight room after three football players refused to provide student IDs to work out.
Leipold used multiple expletives and told an editor: “It’s going to be (tough) to try to cover football next season.”
He also said anyone affiliated with the student-run newspaper would not be allowed to call anyone with the football team without approval and that student reporters questions would go unanswered in the 2009 season, according to the Royal Purple story.
“The door is shut,” Leipold said, according to the paper. “Go cover soccer … I’m sure that will be fun.”
Leipold also sent an e-mail Wednesday afternoon to Chancellor Richard Telfer, athletic director Paul Plinske and athletic spokesman Tom Fick discussing his decision.
“If this is the type of journalism our paper is going to have. They can cover someone else — we will get along just fine,” Leipold wrote.
Leipold said Thursday that the players had been disciplined for their actions before the editorial ran, but declined to delve into further details, saying that he supports all Warhawks athletic programs and has made amends with other school officials, including the soccer program.
“I’ve taken accountability, I’ve apologized multiple times and multiple ways,” Leipold told AP. “I have apologized to the Royal Purple, and from my understanding from our meeting face to face, it’s been accepted.”
Whitewater has made the Division III championship game four consecutive years, winning in 2007 and losing three other times to powerhouse Mount Union.
Leipold, named Division III coach of the year in 2007, is well-known for his willingness to talk to reporters who call his office since taking over for longtime coach Bob Berezowitz, who coached the school for 22 years through the 2006 title game.
Plinske admonished Leipold.
“It is an instance where an excellent coach allowed his passion for the program and his team to get the best of him,” Plinske said. “Coach Leipold knows his behavior was unacceptable.”
Telfer said he believes that the tense relationship between the football team and the paper can be repaired.
“Lance Leipold admitted that he behaved poorly and he has apologized. It is my hope that we learn from this situation and move forward,” Telfer said. “Coach Leipold understands that the program needs the support of the entire campus community, and that includes the Royal Purple, to be successful.”