Old School. I have yet to see it, but I've heard it's a funny movie. Basic plot is that a bunch of 40-year-olds go back to college and turn into party animals. Classic fish-out-of-water comedy.
But do you know that fiction became reality? That the men's basketball coach of the Iowa State Cyclones, a 47-year-old named Larry Eustachy, crashed college parties? That he drank beer with underage students? That he drunkenly complained how bad his team was? That he was photographed kissing the cheek of a female student at one of these parties, and that this and other photographs were published by the Des Moines Register?
It's not so funny anymore.
On January 22, 2003, Iowa State lost at Missouri. After the game, for some unknown reason, Larry Eustachy felt like partying.
Between 1:30 and 2 a.m., Eustachy arrived at a party with Missouri player Josh Kroenke. The host of the party was Missouri student Sean Devereaux; it was a classic college shindig, with cans of beer and young adults and not much else.
Deveraux thought having a famous coach in his living room was cool at first, but Eustachy quickly wore out his welcome.
"At first it was kind of cool," Deveraux said. "But then after his (friends) left, it was kind of like, 'What are you doing here, guy?'" They finally called Eustachy a cab at 5 a.m. ... but not before Deveraux snapped some pictures.
This wasn't the only college party Eustachy has been known to attend.
The Register also interviewed Kansas State student Nicole Wenger, who said that she attended a frat party with Eustachy after Iowa State lost at Kansas State on January 19, 2002.
"He was like, 'What are you doing here? Why aren't you going to KU? The girls down there are much hotter. You belong there,'" Wenger told the Register.
It didn't take long for Eustachy to be fired. The photographs were published on April 28, 2003; by May 5, 2003 he and the school negotiated a resignation that included a contract buyout of a little less than $1 million. (Eustachy's salary was $1.1 million per year; he was Iowa's highest-paid state employee. He was under contract until 2011, so the buyout was a good deal.)
Eustachy tried his best to keep his job two days after the photographs were published, he held a press conference explaining that he was an alcoholic and that he needed help, not a pink slip. Many of his players also stood beside him; some pleaded with ISU president George Geoffroy to retain Eustachy. However, assistant coach Steve Barnes was suspended on May 2, 2003 for intimidating players into supporting Eustachy, so their public pleas may not have come from the heart.
"He's drinking, but he's 47 and has that right. As far as being kissed on the cheek, I don't know if you've seen 'The Price is Right' with Bob Barker, but he has that happen all the time," said center Jared Horman. Of course, Horman was charged with public intoxication in April, so maybe he isn't the best person to pass judgment.
Want another disturbing tidbit? Try this one: In early 2003, another of Eustachy's assistants, Randy Brown, resigned under pressure after he was charged with possession of child pornography.
Cynical people say that the Old School antics were only a convienent reason for Iowa State to fire Eustachy. The real reason, they say, is that the team wasn't winning games, and considering that Eustachy was under contract for eight years more ... well, there had to be a way to get rid of him.
Would Eustachy have kept his job if Iowa State had made the Final Four? Maybe. Georgia coach Jim Harrick was fired in 2003 after a successful season, but he was responsible for severe academic cheating. Bobby Knight was fired by Indiana after a public scandal, but the Hoosiers had fallen on mediocre times. A better example may be former Alabama football coach Mike DuBose; he caused the school much grief after being sued by a secretary for sexual harrassment, but he wasn't fired until he went 3-8 one year.
On the other hand, maybe a coach that goes out to frat parties and gets rip-roaring drunk isn't likely to win many games. You think?
Associated Press; Des Moines Register
Just for fun: http://foxsports.lycos.com/content/view?contentId=1255252