Thursday, February 03, 2005

Au revoir, Pierre

Oh, the University of Iowa campus was buzzing yesterday afternoon, with the news that men's basketball coach Steve Alford kicked his star player, Pierre Pierce, off the team. Pierce is being investigated by West Des Moines police for intent to commit sexual abuse, burglary, criminal mischief and false imprisonment. Though the alleged burglary probably would've gotten Pierce at least suspended, once the police added the charge of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, the UI athletic department made its decision. In 2002, Pierce was arrested on a felony sexual assault charge, and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault causing injury.

"I regret this step has become necessary, but Pierre has betrayed the trust we placed in him when he was given a second chance two years ago," Alford said in a statement released by the university. "Pierre is an excellent basketball player who will be missed by our team. But, given the circumstances, I feel this is the only appropriate response."
Though it was clearly the right thing to do, this might also result in the end of Steve Alford's career at Iowa. His basketball team got off to a blazing start, winning 12 of its first 13 games. Since then, however, Iowa has struggled against its Big Ten conference opponents, winning only three of seven games. And as Ryan Suchomel pointed out in last Sunday's Iowa City Press-Citizen, Alford was already on pretty shaky ground with Iowa. Attendance is dwindling. Players have been dismissed because of poor academics. The team fails to meet expectations. This thing with Pierce just amps up the level of disgust. (And many people thought Pierce never should've been allowed back on the team after the 2002 incident.)

Here's more on the Pierce story from the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen.