MENS BASKETBALL

Colorado State coaches on leave

Colorado State interim coach Steve Barnes has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Barnes, the Rams' associate head coach, had been put in charge of the program a week earlier when sixth-year head coach Larry Eustachy was placed on paid administrative leavewhile athletic director Joe Parker conducted a "climate assessment" of the program.

Multiple sources close to the program have said Barnes, an assistant under Eustachy for 22 years at five different schools, is "as bad" or "worse" than Eustachy when it comes to his behavior toward players and staff.

Assistant coach Jase Herl was named the acting coach for Saturday's home game against San Jose State, which the Rams won 90-79 to snap a seven-game losing streak. Of the remaining three assistant coaches, only Herl has head coaching experience, and that was at Northwest Kansas Technical College, a junior college in Goodland. Pierce Hornung and Willie Glover are the other assistants, and both are in just their second season on the bench.

The investigation into Eustachy and the way he runs the program is the second in four years. A previous investigation during the 2013-14 season found that he created "an atmosphere of fear and intimidation" within the programand verbally and emotionally abused players and staff members. That report hadn't been made public until the Coloradoan obtained a copy last February.

Barnes was called an "enabler" of Eustachy's behavior by several of the eight players and six staff members interviewed at the time. Multiple sources have told the Coloradoan in recent days that Barnes is "as bad" or "worse" than Eustachy.

Colorado State University's players boycotted practice Thursday for reasons that were not immediately clear. Some sources who declined to be identified for fear of retribution said the boycott was over concerns that Barnes was engaging in many of the same negative behaviors that prompted the investigations into Eustachy.

"Steve Barnes is his right-hand guy," said a former CSU athletic department staff member. "Sometimes, he was even worse than Larry, because Larry was never in the office to begin with, and Steve was."

Barnes' annual salary is $397,129. Herl's is $138,038. The contracts of CSU assistant coaches are all year-to-year, deputy athletic director Steve Cottingham said.

Herl, 30, said after Saturday's game that he didn't know who would run the Rams' next practice, scheduled for Tuesday. School officials didn't provide an answer to that question, either. CSU (11-16, 4-10 Mountain West) doesn't play again until next Saturday at Fresno State.

Parker said Thursday night that he hopes to complete his investigation "as soon as possible" but that he first has to meet with Eustachy as part of the process.

"Coach Eustachy and his representatives are unable to meet with us until early next week," Parker said in a statement released by the school. "The university intends to resolve this as soon as possible."

In that statement, Parker said "student-athlete welfare has always been our top priority."

Parker and other school officials have declined additional comment until the assessment is complete. CSU President and Chancellor Tony Frank told the Coloradoan on Thursday that no final decision on Eustachy's future with the program had been reached and that he would need to review the findings of Parker's investigation before making such a determination.

Eustachy and Barnes have worked together at five schools. CSU is the second of those schools to suspend Barnes during an investigation into Eustachy.

Iowa State suspended Barnes less than a day after putting him in charge of its program in 2003 because of concerns that Barnes was intimidating players from speaking out against Eustachy, his long-time friend.

Iowa State fired Eustachy later that day after photos of the coach drinking and kissing women at a party were published.

Eustachy has three years remaining on his contract with CSU and would be owed nearly $3 million this year's $985,012 salary for each of the remaining years if he were fired "without cause."

After completing the 2013-14 investigation into Eustachy's conduct, former athletic director Jack Graham recommended firing the coach "for just cause."

In the report, Eustachy acknowledged that he had troubles managing his anger and that he had "crossed the line" between constructive criticism and making personal attacks against individual players and staff members and later said he had gone "way over the line at times" when asked if the "atmosphere within the basketball program is one of fear and intimidation."

He also admitted using profane and derogatory language when addressing players, including some terms that he and Graham agreed were "offensive and abusive" and that he had thrown chairs, soda cans, papers and erasers, punted a basketball and punched a whiteboard during angry outbursts in front of his team.

Frank, in consultation with the university's legal team, decided against firing the coach at that time, choosing instead to require a series of corrective steps that included attending six sessions with a professional who specializes in anger management and apologizing to his players and staff for his "negative behaviors and poor conduct in their presence."

Barnes and Eustachy grew up together in Arcadia, California, and were teammates in high school and junior college and roommates at Chico State.

The Rams were 0-2 under Barnes, whose only previous head coaching experience was at San Jose State, where his teams went 39-51 from the 1999-2000 season to 2001-02. He has worked with Eustachy at Idaho, Utah State, Iowa State, Southern Mississippi and CSU, serving as the director of player personnel in 2012-13 and moving into the associate head coach role prior to the 2013-14 season.

Eustachy guided the Rams to a 121-74 record prior to his suspension.

D1SportsNet



February 12, 2018

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