Former Iowa running back Marcus Coker wasn’t forced to leave the university. The decision to withdraw from school and transfer was his, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday.
“I think ultimately there was a little frustration there,” Ferentz said. “He made the decision that was best for him. I told him I was going to support him no matter what. I think Marcus is a tremendous young man. I wish him all the best moving forward. He’ll do well.”
Coker withdrew from school in January after being investigated for sexual assault in late October. He has since transferred to Stony Brook University, an FCS school in Stony Brook, N.Y.
Coker will be eligible next fall and will participate in spring practice.
Ferentz was asked what entities had power to suspend football players. Coker was suspended for Iowa’s Insight Bowl appearance for a violation of the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, which is different than a suspension handed down for a violation of team rules, which is something Ferentz governs.
The Student-Athlete Code of Conduct goes above and beyond the Code of Student Life, which applies to all UI students, in governing athletes. The athletics department has higher standards for student-athletes and can impose sanctions such as game suspensions, UI Spokesman Tom Moore said, so the department is kept informed of investigations by the dean of students regarding student-athletes.
“There’s athletic department policy and there’s student code of conduct, which every student on our campus adheres to,” Ferentz said. “Then, you have legal issues. Internal conduct is sometimes more stringent than what our athletic department is. I don’t know if it’s ever been more stringent than what the university would regulate. We’re part of the process and we work within the system.”
Ken O’Keefe visited with quarterback prospect C.J. Beathard and family on Monday, securing a commit from the Tennessee native for the 2012 recruiting class.
Then, on Friday, O’Keefe took the wide receivers job with the Miami Dolphins. Ferentz explained the sequence of events on Wednesday.
“During that time, there was no way for Ken to know what what going to happen [with the Dolphins],” Ferentz said. “He had no knowledge he was going to be invited down there. . . . I really don’t think in Ken’s heart, until he had to, I don’t think he knew what he would really do.”
It’s the perils of coach-player at the college level.
“That’s recruiting,” Ferentz said. “Usually, the question is am I going to be there? The answer is I’ve been here 13 years . . .”
Beathard’s grandfather, Bobby Beathard, was a longtime general manager in the NFL. Ferentz believes that helps with them understanding the mercurial nature of the coaching business.
“I talked to C.J. immediately after that,” Ferentz said. “What I told him is what I told all of our guys affected by changes, you’ve got to have trust in us. We’ve had a great guy here, the guy you bought into, the guy we believed in. We’ll get someone else you’ll be able to believe in, too. That’s our goal now, to get someone to fill that role.”
Iowa has crossed paths with Auburn on the recruiting trail this year. This may or may not have prompted the following from Ferentz, who was asked if the human relations department at Iowa has affected the hiring process.
“Always. This is the University of Iowa; are you kidding me? It’s a public school,” Ferentz said. “We don’t have a chaplain’s office in our football facility, but you guys can figure that out. Anyway…”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been a topic among Big Ten coaches in the wake of aggressive but totally legal recruiting tactics that landed the Buckeyes recruits who had committed to Wiscoinsin and Michigan State.
Ferentz didn’t talk recruiting. Ohio State didn’t come after any future Hawkeyes. But he did throw a mention toward OSU’s salaries for assistants. Luke Fickell and Everett Withers will coach OSU’s defense next season for a combined $1.2 million. Strength coach Mickey Mariotti will make $380,000. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman will make $420,000.
O’Keefe was Iowa’s highest-paid assistant last season at $313,000.
“You know, I think there’s a lot of approaches you can take,” Ferentz said. “We had one school that just brought like a new standard of pay, Southeastern Conference prices move north, and that’s the trend in college sports. That’s TV. You understand it a little better than I do. But the game has changed a lot that way, just in terms of the revenue and all those types of things.”
Ferentz said he’s comfortable with Iowa’s budget.
“But at the end of the day, I’m really comfortable with the parameters we’ve been working in, and I’m really confident we’re going to get good coaches to fit those parameters,” he said. “If it becomes an issue, I’ll talk to [athletics director] Gary [Barta] about that, but I really don’t foresee that. If it is an issue I’m sure he’ll be supportive, within reason. I’m not going to go ask for something ridiculous, but I don’t see that being an issue at all. I’m not worried about that in the least.”
In 2012, Ohio State’s head coach, defensive coordinators and offensive coordinator will make a combined total of $5.62 million. In 2011, Iowa’s head coach, defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator made $4.34 million, with $3.785 million going to Ferentz.
Iowa’s staff is budgeted to earn $2.15 million in ’12. Ohio State was at $3.5 million with positions yet to be filled.