|Sunday, March 9
Updated: March 11, 4:11 AM ET
School president resigns; AD, coach placed on leave
ESPN.com news services
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- St. Bonaventure president Robert Wickenheiser resigned Sunday as part of the fallout surrounding the troubles of the school's men's basketball program.
The university's board of trustees, which unanimously sought Wickenheiser's resignation, also placed athletic director Gothard Lane and head coach Jan van Breda Kolff on administrative leave, pending a review of the program. Lane had already been notified last month that his contract would not be renewed once it expires May 31.
Van Breda Kolff hung up his phone without comment Sunday night when reached by The Associated Press.
The board, which met in Buffalo, released a joint statement citing failed leadership.
"The board believes the actions it took today and those actions it will continue to take will begin a process of healing and strong and appropriate leadership,'' the trustees said.
The board appointed the Rev. Dominic Monti, the school's professor of church history, as interim president. Assistant coach Billy McCaffrey was appointed the team's interim coach.
Last Monday, the Atlantic 10 Conference stripped the team of six league victories and barred it from conference postseason play after center Jamil Terrell was ruled ineligible for violating NCAA junior transfer guidelines. A day later, the players announced they would boycott the final two games, including Saturday's scheduled season-finale at home against No. 21 Dayton.
Van Breda Kolff told ESPN.com he encouraged the players to compete in the final two games, but would not force them to do so.
Van Breda Kolff told ESPN.com on Saturday night that he will not resign and intends to coach the team next season.
The troubles might go even further. The board announced late Sunday that it is investigating a potential "irregularity involving the grade record of an athlete, and a change in that record.'' Without going into detail, the board said it intends to have a newly appointed committee that's investigating its basketball program review the possible irregularity, too.
Following the A-10 sanctions, Wickenheiser took full responsibility for approving Terrell's transfer.
Terrell, who transferred last year after two seasons at Coastal Georgia Community College in Brunswick, Ga., was ruled ineligible because he didn't have an associate's degree, but earned a certificate in welding at his former school.
Wickenheiser's son, Kort Wickenheiser, was an assistant under van Breda Kolff and was also placed on administrative leave.
A crowd of about 800 students and faculty gathered at the Reilly Center gymnasium, and applauded when Wickenheiser's resignation was announced Sunday night. Monti then received a standing ovation when he was introduced as the school's interim president.
"There were errors, and the board of trustees moved in to correct those and to admit to those,'' Monti said. "I think the main thing is to build the confidence in ourselves, who we are and what we stand for.''
Senior Andy Keenan, a student government executive, supported the school's moves.
"It was a sign of solidarity and it shows that Bona's bigger than basketball,'' Keenan said.
In making its decision, the board appointed a committee to review all aspects of the men's basketball program. Jack McGinley, a Pittsburgh attorney and school alum, will head the committee, which has been charged with reviewing players' admissions policies and the program's management and decision-making to ensure the program "reflects the highest values and ideals of our institution.''
The committee has been asked to submit a report by April 15.
The A-10 continues its investigation into the Bonnies, and could announce further sanctions when conference officials meet April 1.
The NCAA reserves the right to launch its own investigation and take further action against the school.
Wickenheiser became president in 1994 after serving 16 years as president at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md.
Last season, van Breda Kolff's first at St. Bonaventure, the Bonnies finished 17-13, losing to Syracuse in the first round of the NIT.
The Bonnies were 13-14 this season, including 7-7 in the conference, before their six victories were stripped. The team's overall record does not change, pending an NCAA ruling.
Van Breda Kolff, who began his head coaching career in 1991 at Cornell, has also coached at Vanderbilt, where he reached the NCAA tournament's first round in 1997, and Pepperdine, where the Waves reached the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2000.
On Thursday, van Breda Kolff released his first statement since the team was sanctioned, standing behind his record in which he never had an NCAA infraction or violation.
"I look forward to the day when the truth about all of this will be told. ... I welcome and look forward to and will cooperate fully with an on-going investigation,'' van Breda Kolff said. "I stand on my beliefs and my integrity.''
Board of trustees chairman William Swan is scheduled to address students on Monday night, after they resume classes following last week's spring break.
The Rev. Dan Reilly told the gathered students Sunday night that he had spoken to several players, including sophomore guard Mike Gansey who fears returning to campus because of a potential backlash for the team's boycott of the final two games.
"We need to show our Franciscan tradition with understanding, a need to serve and to show mercy,'' Reilly said.
"We have to stay together and see past this and forgive the players,'' said freshman Sara Maurer.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.