Latrell Scott was born on July 15, 1975, in Richmond, Va. He was only 14 when the likes of his future players Tre Gray and Aaron Corp were born. He graduated from Hampton University in 1999 and entered coaching at the age of 24. When he accepted the University of Richmond head coaching job, he was 34, and became the youngest Division 1 head football coach in the country at the time.
Scott is now 36, and is facing unemployment after his resignation last Tuesday. As many of you know, he had no choice but to step down after being arrested on the charge of a DWI on Monday night. He had a previous DWI arrest on his record when he interviewed for the job in 2009 and knew that he couldn't afford to let it happen again.
The University of Richmond community has now encountered a nation-wide problem that many other universities are also: coaches making poor decisions and paying the price for them. Some mistakes, like Latrell's, have been for alcohol misuse, a problem tagged more typically to the players themselves. Bob Huggins was in the hot seat after an arrest on the charge of DUI in 2004, and was canned a year later. Eddie Sutton was cited for DUI in 2006, after he crashed his car. He resigned a year later.
The question is not whether these coaches should be fired. A coach is meant to be an avatar of the moral code for a program, and when he is the one who breaks it, players can't be expected to look at him the same way. The question rather is should we, as loyal fans, forgive these team commanders for their youthful mistakes.
It is easier to say yes for those like Huggins. When previous denouncements of illegal and unethical behavior are succeeded by money- generating, winning seasons, it is easy for us to forget. A coach will be perceived for what he has done lately, not some glitch in his past.
But what is to be of Latrell Scott? He was only going into his second season as a head coach and, because of national media coverage, will most likely be recognized only for this grueling mistake. Should we, as his local community and hometown, do the same?
I believe we should recognize that he is a 36-year-old, who, like any one of us, still has a lot of growing up to do. He, like any one of us, has made mistakes that are regrettable. He, like any of us, should not be characterized by his failures.
Scott did a lot of good for this university. In his first season, he kept the Spiders in a position to make the playoffs right down to the final game, even with a number of injuries to important players. He helped organize a Bone Marrow Registry Drive last spring that added 300 potential matches to the National Bone Marrow Registry. In the Robins hallways, he was always the one to hold the door for someone or ask how they were doing.
These DWIs do not reflect who he is as a person. He is a talented football coach who respected this university and wanted the best for his team and players. He wanted to win and didn't need any big time boosters or NCAA recruiting violations to do it. He played the game right.
I understand how serious his multiple DWI offenses are; I'm not trying to take away from that. I hope that he seeks help for this problem. I just ask that you try to see Latrell not for his mug shot circulating around the web, but for his good character and overall loyalty and dedication to the Spider athletic program. I wish him all the best and sincerely feel that one day, this will just be a glitch in his past for an otherwise prosperous coaching career.
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