MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama State hired Brian Jenkins as football coach despite knowing about allegations that he mistreated players and broke NCAA rules during his tenure at Bethune-Cookman, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The newspaper, citing interviews with Bethune-Cookman players and coaches, reported Sunday that Jenkins routinely practiced his team beyond the 20 hours per week allowed by the NCAA and may have provided improper benefits.
Melvin Hines, Alabama State’s interim athletic director, told the Advertiser that he knew of allegations reported to the NCAA against Jenkins before hiring him on Dec. 16 and made trustees “aware of potentially what could be out there.”
“I talked with coach Jenkins about those issues, and he was very up front with me about everything,” Hines said. “My view on that is that it’s all personnel matters from his previous workplace and this is a fresh start.”
ASU President Gwendolyn Boyd and board Chairman Locy Baker denied discussing the accusations with Hines before hiring Jenkins, who went 46-14 in five seasons at Bethune-Cookman.
“If it’s true — and we don’t know if it is or not right now — we’d have to act,” Baker said. “But if there are NCAA issues out there, we’ll have to wait and see what comes of them and make a decision.”
Alabama State officials did not respond to phone messages or emails from The Associated Press Sunday or Monday seeking comment.
Bethune-Cookman assistant athletic director Tony O’Neal told the newspaper that the university reported to the NCAA and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference “anything that needed to be reported.”
O’Neal declined to say if he felt the school’s investigation was a factor in Jenkins leaving.
Jenkins, a three-time MEAC coach of the year, received a $90,000 pay cut when he took the Alabama State job, where he’s earning $175,000 in his first year.
Former Bethune-Cookman offensive lineman Blake Pritchard said the team was made to practice well over the allowed limits of 20 hours per week and four hours in a day.
“We were going 26 to 28 hours, easy, every week,” said Pritchard, who played in 2011 and 2012.
Pritchard and former tight end Isaac Virgin said preseason two-a-day practices would sometimes approach eight hours.
Pritchard, former receiver Justin Henderson and seven other players said the team refused to leave the locker room the day after being ordered to practice at 1 a.m., their third in 18 hours.
Linebacker Rahdeese Alcutt said Jenkins threatened he and defensive end Brandin Hudson with a steak knife at a pregame meal when he laughed over a spilled drink. Alcutt said Jenkins, who later apologized, didn’t allow talking during pre-game meals.
Virgin, a South Florida transfer, might have been ineligible when he played against South Carolina State. South Florida hadn’t released his transcript because he owed some $250 on his student account leading up to the next game against Miami, Virgin said.
“Coach Jenkins gave me the money, I got in a car with a grad assistant and we drove to Tampa to get my transcript,” he said. “The rest of the team got on the bus (for Miami). I got in this private car and went to Tampa. When we got it, we drove to Miami and I played in the game.”