Earlier tonight, a story broke about Virginia Tech fining football players part of their Cost of Attendance stipend for certain violations. Since I was there when the comments were made, I wanted to clear something up.
Deadspin is going after Bud Foster for this, because he’s the one who made the comments. Specifically, one Kevin Draper of Deadspin, who was not at the interview, called Foster, and I quote, an “Asshole.” Pardon my breaking the rules of our own terms of service.
First of all, here’s the video of the interview in question that I shot this evening.
I also want to point out that this is not the policy of the Virginia Tech athletic department. If this policy was being looked into or implemented, it was done solely by the Tech football program without consultation of the athletic director. Why? Because the football program was used to doing things on their own for years with Jim Weaver as the AD, so they just continued to do the same thing without believing it would be an issue.
But that’s not the point. The point is that Foster is getting attacked for no reason. Literally 5-10 minutes before Foster arrived to do interviews, the media came across evidence that these “fines” were happening. Bud Foster did not call a press conference to announce that players were being fined, or that he supported players being fined. He just happened to be the first coach at the lectern. The question was going to get asked whether that coach was Bud Foster, Frank Beamer, Scot Loeffler, Shane Beamer, or whomever. Foster probably should have been more tactful and pulled a Scot Loeffler by saying “That’s a great question for Coach Beamer.” I wish he had. But he was blindsided, and mistakes happen.
Obviously Foster wasn’t prepared. He said they were considering it, and didn’t get into any details. He got attacked because a national reporter who was not present read about the interview in Twitter and took the quotes out of context. Bud Foster isn’t out to get anyone. He’s not against players getting paid Cost of Attendance. He just happened to be the first man up at the mic immediately after the media got word of the alleged policy.
This is no more Bud Foster’s fault that it is any other assistant’s fault. All his players and his former players love him. You won’t get any of them to say anything negative about Foster. He’s most certainly not an “Asshole” as the Deadspin writer contests. That’s the type of conclusion you draw when you shoot off at the mouth about an interview in which you weren’t even present, and which you didn’t even watch online. You just read some Tweets, and decided that an “article” (it was three paragraphs with four embedded tweets) was in order.
I was present, and I’ll say it: Foster didn’t do anything wrong. He got ambushed. He’s getting attacked for a policy that he isn’t responsible for.
Does that mean we don’t have reason to worry, however? We do. I’ve been saying since the spring that this ship (meaning the football program, not the athletic department as a whole) isn’t run as tightly as it used to be, and this is another example. When the football team was criticized for poor behavior at the “Take Back the Night Event” in the spring, I wrote that the whole team never should have been at the event without proper supervision in the first place. Frank Beamer delegates a lot when it comes to things like that. There’s nothing wrong with delegating. He delegates his defense to Foster, and it works out great. But when you start delegating to people who make the wrong decisions, it’s going to turn out poorly, and the head man is ultimately responsible.
So yes, this incident is a concern. Fining football players a part of their Cost of Attendance flies in the face of Whit Babcock’s “Pylons of Promise” program that was announced last spring. The “Pylons of Promise” include the Cost of Attendance, career development, concussion research, a student assistant fund, loss of value insurance, etc. In short, Whit Babcock’s program is about supporting student athletes. The football program’s alleged policy of fining players for certain violations does not exactly go hand in hand with this policy. The fact that the program was planning on implementing, or had implemented, this new policy without consulting the athletic department is a bad sign. I’m guessing that Babcock will have the program on a bit of a short leash from here on out. He already had to make a public statement…
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 27, 2015
This article’s main point was to defend Bud Foster against some national criticism that, as a person who was present at the incident, I feel he does not deserve. Were mistakes made? Sure. Is Bud Foster what the Deadspin writer (I use the term “writer” loosely) called him? No.