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Eustachy Is Out of the Picture Too

Basketball coach forced to resign at Iowa State over party photos, taking a career fall similar to Price's.

May 06, 2003|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

The party is over for Larry Eustachy, two days after Alabama turned out the lights on Mike Price.

Eustachy, 47, resigned as Iowa State's men's basketball coach Monday, the fallout from the publication of embarrassing photos of him drinking and kissing young women at a late-night party at a rival school.

As with Price, fired as coach at Alabama for his behavior involving a night at a strip club, Eustachy's fall was as swift as it was agonizing.

Three years removed from an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament, Eustachy was suspended with pay last Wednesday, Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde recommending that Eustachy be fired. That same day, Eustachy acknowledged he was an alcoholic seeking treatment and said he would not resign.

However, despite campus protests urging that he be retained, Eustachy agreed to leave. He will be paid $110,000 for the remainder of 2003 and a lump sum of $850,000 on Jan. 1, 2004. He had eight years left on a 10-year contract worth $1.1 million a year.

"It's time to move on, folks," Eustachy told the Des Moines Register. "I came to that conclusion over the weekend. We've played tug-of-war, divided this group of people enough."

Eustachy will continue to receive health benefits for one year, including coverage for treatment of alcoholism.

"It's been a difficult time for the university," Iowa State President Greg Geoffroy said. "This decision enables our basketball program to move forward, and it supports Mr. Eustachy and his family in his struggle with alcohol."

The sudden collapse of the careers of two prominent coaches has reverberated through college athletic departments. Clearly, scandalous conduct is not being tolerated.

Villanova basketball Coach Jay Wright is re-evaluating allowing himself to be photographed with Villanova students as they walked along Bourbon Street in New Orleans during the Final Four.

"What do they do with the picture?" he told "Everybody is going to be increasingly careful, what they do, where they've been seen and who they are with."

Eustachy had a 101-59 record in five seasons at Iowa State and won Big 12 Conference titles in 1999-2000 and 2000-01. The Cyclones, however, were 12-19 in 2001-02 and 17-14 last season.

A Long Beach State graduate, Eustachy was coach at Idaho and Utah State before taking over at Iowa State in 1998. He is married with two children.

"President Geoffroy is not the problem, Bruce Van De Velde is not the problem," Eustachy said. "I created this situation and I am holding myself totally accountable."

Off-court problems plagued the program even before the revelations that led to his departure:

* Cyclone forward Clint Varley was charged with drunken driving in February, and a month later center Jared Homan was charged with public intoxication after he was found lying on a sidewalk.

* Assistant Randy Brown is facing trial June 2 on federal child pornography charges. Brown has been on leave since Jan. 29.

* Iowa State self-reported to the NCAA that Eustachy twice paid players for making free throws last season. No payment was more than $20.

* Assistant Steve Barnes was suspended last week after allegedly telling a player and his family to help Eustachy fight for his job and to "go after the people that got us." Barnes denied using threats.

Eustachy's latest problems surfaced April 28 when the Des Moines Register published photos of him holding a beer and kissing college-aged women on the cheek at a party at Missouri.

Eustachy also attended a party after a road game at Kansas State and Van De Velde said he received troubling reports about the coach's behavior in other instances.

Iowa State last fired a coach in a major sport in 1986. Football coach Jim Criner was ousted then after numerous NCAA rules violations came to light. Cyclone football coach Dan McCarney admitted to an incident of domestic abuse in 1995 but was not fired.

Dana Altman of Creighton is expected to be Iowa State's top choice as a replacement for Eustachy. Altman, who interviewed at Georgia and Illinois in the last two months, has recruited well in Iowa.

As for Eustachy, he expects to coach again.

"Time will tell if someone wants to give me a second chance," he said.

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