Questions Remain After Cronin's Reinstatement
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Northeastern officials broke the ice Monday in a news conference with local reporters. The session was held after head coach Greg Cronin was reinstated, and included athletic director Peter Roby and Cronin.
Despite the many things that were addressed, many questions still remain.
First and foremost, Cronin and Roby both avoided the obvious question of whether these violations were intentional. By not saying anything — as opposed to New Hampshire's "accidental" violations from two years ago — the implication is that they were. If Roby didn't believe the violations were intentional, he would've said so, but he did not.
Roby did say he believes the sanctions will be considered "major" by the NCAA, but he didn't think it warranted Cronin being fired. Meanwhile, Cronin admits to making "mistakes" with no qualifications.
Credit to Roby for at least giving a basic outline of what the violations were. But if those were intentional, it seems like Cronin is getting off the hook fairly light. Cronin pointed out that it's likely his team could lose scholarships, and that would be a tough hit, but it's something Northeastern and Cronin can recover from.
Roby, who was brought in to help clean things up in the wake of a men's basketball recruiting scandal at Northeastern, one for which the program is still on probation, mentioned many times in the interview that integrity was important. But even if sending text messages is a far cry from the kind of scandals you see in football and basketball — kids with cars, money under the table, other perks floated to athletes, etc... — an intentional violation of this kind would seem to violate the cherished principles Roby spoke about at length. It's just hard to jibe the two.
On the matter of not suspending assistant Sebastien Laplante right away, it's certainly understandable, and Roby's explanation is fair enough. If indeed Laplante was less involved than the other coaches, and given the harm that could come to the players as a whole without any sort of continuity, it's hard to find fault in letting Laplante coach through Cronin's and O'Connell's suspension.
The other big question is, what happens if Northeastern loses this weekend to Boston University? Will Cronin decide to step away? Cronin is a good straight shooter with the media, by and large, and very open about his team's play. This always makes for good stories. And there's no questioning he's a good coach.
On the other hand, though he's done a good job at Northeastern, he's never really fit into the college coaching crowd. Many people assume he'd like to get back to the pro game. He also is pretty tough on players and assistant coaches, and he'd probably admit it.
Of course, the true character move, you could say, is to stick it out — if indeed Northeastern wants him back — and see through this mess of his own making. Time will tell.