Ex-USC player claims Ed Orgeron berated him for going to class

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On the same day that the NCAA released its annual APR scores citing student-athletes’ academic success, TIME magazine published a piece suggesting not everyone takes schoolwork as seriously.

In an interview with the publication, former USC player Bob DeMars (1997-2001) says he was cursed at by assistant coach Ed Orgeron for leaving practice early to attend a statistics class. Orgeron was an assistant for the Trojans from 1998-2004, and came back to Los Angeles in 2010.

From the piece:

In order to show up on time for a required statistics course one semester, he says he had to leave spring practice twenty minutes early, once a week. His defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, wasn’t happy. You motherf—-r, DeMars remembers Orgeron, who went on to become head coach at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007, and is now back at USC as assistant head coach, shouting at him. “He M-F’d me all over the place,” says DeMars. “He made me feel like a bad person for going to class.”

And later…

DeMars says that when other players ran sprints for missing class, Orgeron would give DeMars the “stink-eye,” as if DeMars let him down for actually going to class. 

(Writer’s note on the alleged “stink-eye”: pretty sure that’s just how Orgeron looks all the time.)

DeMars said he originally wanted to major in the university’s cinema program, but scheduling conflicts with practice resulted in DeMars switching to a business major. He currently works as a filmmaker.

In response, USC athletic director Pat Haden released the following statement to TIME (Orgeron was not made available to comment):

“While the alleged events happened before my time as athletic director at USC, I can say that all our football practices have been open to the media and players’ families since before Bob was here, and have been open to the public for most of that time as well. The transparency of practice would have brought to light this type of alleged inappropriate behavior. We also have high standards for our coaches and monitor and evaluate them as we would any of our employees.

“Additionally, we have always been proud to support our student-athletes in a full range of academic pursuits. Majors represented in 2012 among football alone included Theatre, Business Administration, Psychology, Communications, Economics, Chemical Engineering and Political Science.”

Generally speaking, let’s not pretend that an education comes  first for some (many?) players, but those who do want to make it a priority — or at least enough of one to stay eligible — need to be able to do so without reprimand. Or a stink eye.

Especially if that’s the “payment” they receive.