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Answers Overdue In Latest Mess To Haunt Ewu

Wed., April 12, 1995

OK, shoppers, let’s do the math on the John Wade buyout:

Seventy-five grand to not coach basketball the next two years at Eastern Washington University … that’s five zeroes … oops, don’t forget the decimal point … with losses running at 65 percent every season … carry the one … that makes $1,875 for each game the Eagles won’t lose with Wade stalking the sideline.

By golly, that may qualify as a bargain, after all.

Indeed, it is tempting to surmise that Eastern is well rid of John Wade whatever the price - not because he couldn’t beat Whitworth or UPS or anybody much, but for the reckless and whiny posture of his departure. Then again, the lamentable upshot of this messy divorce - other than the outrage of sticking students and taxpayers with the $75,000 in alimony - is that the coach and school deserve one another.

Eastern’s players, however, deserve better. Now, at last, they figure to get it.

They deserved it a year ago, too, when either blind faith or a brain cramp prompted athletic director John Johnson to give Wade three more years - after his first four had yielded 28 victories, assorted player mutinies and maybe $1.63 in ticket revenue.

The reasoning - and it was borderline refreshing - was that Wade was dedicated and diligent, toiled with limited resources and offered EWU much-desired continuity. Alas, this brush with sanity was undone by the absurd generosity of a three-year bump.

How the qualities that earned Wade an extension now qualify him for a pink slip is something the athletic director still hasn’t bothered to address.

It’s the $75,000 question.

Of course, the educrats had the perfect solution - reassignment, a grand EWU athletic tradition. Wade, however, balked. He’d rather quit - for a price.

Contractually, he was owed - two years at $45,500 per. And who do you consult to enforce a contract?

Why, your lawyer, naturally.

This is all perfectly reasonable of Wade. Still, you can be excused for presuming that since EWU had rewarded him unnecessarily a year ago, he might return the favor and withdraw gracefully - and graciously - now. Uh-huh.

What was perfectly unreasonable of Wade and his attorney, Carl Maxey, was - and let’s quote from the settlement agreement here - “alleging EWU has engaged in racial discrimination in employment.”

Specifics? Ken Dolan, EWU’s executive assistant to the president, insists Wade didn’t get into specifics. And the guess here is Eastern didn’t ask. Realizing the cost - in dollars and image - of fighting such charges, you can bet EWU couldn’t settle fast enough.

Suddenly, the money doesn’t seem so maddening.

Wade and Maxey refuse to elaborate on this claim of racial discrimination - a serious, damaging claim to float in a document in the public record. And without elaboration - without resolution - we must deduce that there was no discrimination, that this was merely contemporary lawyering in all its finery.

Reflected against the racist terrorism being endured in our town by African-Americans at Gonzaga Law School, to see frivolous allegations used as cheap leverage in the case of Shmoes vs. Wade is odious.

And it fairly plunders the perception of John Wade as an honorable guy who was merely under-resourced and overmatched.

“I hope what’s best for the university,” John Wade said. “I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone.”

Except, of course, this racial discrimination stuff.

He did have some bad things to say about this newspaper, which he claimed engaged in a campaign of negative reportage. Perhaps he would like to detail, aside from the handful of players in his tenure who earned degrees - the mission of any college - the positive accomplishments of his stay.

“I just need to get on with my life,” he said. “I just need to go find a job.”

Wrong. First, John, you need to find a clue. You need to lose the paranoia and find some accountability. You need to grow up.

And Eastern needs to wise up, for after a decade in Division I, the self-inflicted wounds and dumb little lies have come to define Eagle athletics.


 
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