Fudging coaching resumes a bad idea

Dana O’Neil broke the story on Friday night. By Saturday, it was all over. Newly hired Villanova assistant coach Doug Martin was just-as-newly fired after a school investigation -- and Dana’s background work -- revealed Martin had included massive inaccuracies in his résumé, inaccuracies which were then posted to Villanova’s website when the hiring was announced.

“Inaccuracies” is a polite way of saying Martin lied. What, exactly, did he lie about? An entire four-year career at Wisconsin-Green Bay that, lo and behold, never actually happened:

According to a statement issued by Villanova when Martin was hired last week, Martin “played collegiate basketball at UW-Green Bay for coach Dick Bennett from 1991–95.”

However, Green Bay has no record of Martin playing there. He is not listed on the all-time roster, and Andrew Gavin, Green Bay’s director of athletic communications, said via email, “I do not have a record of a Doug Martin playing here and looked through our stats from each of those years as well.”

While on the phone with ESPN.com, Gavin checked hard copies of both regular-season and postseason media guides from the 1990–91 through the 1994–95 seasons. The name Doug Martin did not appear on any rosters or in any statistics.

Meanwhile, former UW-Green Bay coach Dick Bennett said Martin “certainly didn’t play for me,” and former star Jeff Nordgaard helped debunk Martin’s LinkedIn page, which claimed he was a four-year letterwinner at Green Bay, as well as “captained team my senior year.”

“I didn’t play with anyone by that name,” Nordgaard said. “So unless he changed his name …”I was team captain then."

In fact, Martin, who left his position as associate head coach at Paul VI High School in Virginia to join the Wildcats, was merely a four-year letterwinner at Viterbo, an NAIA school in La Crosse, Wis., from 1990–94. He played in 87 games and scored 222 points in those four years, according to the school’s athletics records. But Martin appeared to have kept the Green Bay ruse up for a while; the same information was listed on his bio on his former high school’s website.

Given the nature of the deception, Villanova coach Jay Wright was forced to cut ties (obviously), and he would have been well within his rights to publicly throw Martin under the proverbial bus. After all, he was tricked. That’s embarrassing. But Wright didn’t go apoplectic. Instead, in a statement released Saturday, Wright said he had “always known Doug to be a good person and a good coach,” that he had “taken responsibility for his mistake and will move on successfully,” and that the school wished Martin well. The end result is a feeling that, yeah, Martin made a bad mistake, but that’s all it was, and it’s probably best if everyone learns from it and moves on.

I agree! But before we do that, can we please hammer one thing home? Good. This one goes out to college assistant coaches, I guess, but really to anyone applying for a job doing in any chosen field:

It’s 2012.

Pretty much everyone has the world’s information in their pocket, in their laps, in their cars, accessible at any moment and capable of answering nearly any question. Even if UW-Green Bay’s stellar athletic communications director hadn’t answered ESPN.com’s calls, it takes one Google search (say, “UW Green Bay men’s basketball”) and one click (“History/Records”) to pull up this PDF, which offers a year-by-year statistical accounting of UW-Green Bay hoops back to 1969–70. A quick Google Chrome keyboard command -- CTRL-F -- opens a finder window, where typing “Doug Martin” or “Martin, Doug” reveals no matches. I just did all that in the matter of 30 seconds. It took me longer to write this paragraph.

In 2001, when George O’Leary’s leaky résumé got him quickly sent packing from his dream job coaching Notre Dame football, I suppose the Internet hadn’t yet reached its full potential. It was possible to see how O’Leary, who always got away with it before, could have thought no one would ferret out and verify the connections, or lack thereof. But that was 2001, and O’Leary still got caught within days. Why anyone, in the year 2012, would think himself capable of forging a large part of their professional biography -- particularly to acquire a high-profile job like assistant basketball coach at Villanova -- is beyond my limited powers of understanding.

Over the weekend, ESPN analyst Dan Dakich joked on Twitter that “60–65 percent” of college hoops assistants were “scrambling today.” I really hope that’s all it was -- a joke. Because if not, it's stunning and sad and kind of weirdly hilarious, and the lessons learned from the Curious Case of Doug Martin -- that it’s not the 1970s anymore, and just because you say you did something doesn’t make it true -- need to be absorbed.