Just days after Brian Jenkins conducted a press conference introducing him as Alabama State head coach in December, Montgomery Advertiser columnist Josh Moon was contacted by several Bethune-Cookman players and coaches who had less than glowing things to say about the Hornets’ illustrious hire.
Some came forward anonymously fearing they’d be blackballed if their names ever became attached to what they revealed. Others went public without regard for consequence.
They all had the same assessment of Jenkins, said Moon.
He was an abusive bully who recklessly broke NCAA rules all in the name of control and earning victories during his five years at Bethune-Cookman.
“All of them were disgruntled,” Moon told HBCU Sports. “I’ve never had a person contact me who was gruntled.”
The makeup of the players who shared their stories of Jenkins tyranny were a mix of athletes who were in and out of Bethune-Cookman’s lineup at various points in their career, major contributors and a couple who had some issues.
Moon, who has covered Alabama State and the SWAC for more than a decade, said he didn’t know how the Bethune-Cookman whistle-blowers were able to get a hold of him, as he never sought them out personally.
But being known within black college athletic circles didn’t make it all that difficult, he said.
On Feb. 16, Moon reported a laundry list of damning allegations of mistreatment and NCAA violations tied to Jenkins.
- Improper benefits provided to players;
- Improper housing arrangements;
- Continued and extensive violations of the NCAA weekly practice time limits;
- Failure to pay three assistant coaches that resulted in a federal lawsuit;
- Bullying of staff and players with retaliation against those who spoke up.
The allegations, Moon said, were easy to vet after doing a little digging and verifying the claims through secondary sources who had intimate knowledge of the situation.
It also helped that the players and coaches presented similar accounts of what transpired.
Bethune-Cookman reporting what it knew to the NCAA and MEAC gave some credence to the accusations.
The NCAA has already contacted the Bethune-Cookman graduate assistant who allegedly drove Issac Virgin to Tampa to get his transcript after Jenkins provided him with money to cover the reported $250 worth of charges he amassed at South Florida.
“It’s easy to tell when someone is BSing you,” Moon said. “I’ve been doing investigations a long time. I could verify most of what was being said.”
In what Moon described as “unusual,” the overwhelming majority of players and coaches, including parents of the players did not support Jenkins — something that historically doesn’t happen with a coach shrouded in controversy. Even rarer for a coach who has been as successful as Jenkins was at Bethune-Cookman.
In a portion of a letter linebacker Rahdeese Alcutt wrote, he claimed that he and defensive end Brandin Hudson were threatened by Jenkins with a steak knife during a pregame meal.
Justin Henderson and others claimed Jenkins left them homeless for a portion of the season. All of them, including Blake Pritchard, said Jenkins would routinely violate the NCAA practice rules.
NCAA rules dictate that teams cannot practice more than 20 hours per week during the season, can practice no more than four hours per day and players must be given at least one day off per week.
Even the few who were in support of Jenkins acknowledged the team held many unsanctioned practices, but under the guise that the extended sessions would make them a better football team.
It is no secret that coaches at all levels of competition can be demanding and brutal toward athletes testing their will to the game and commitment to the program.
However, Moon, though his intrepid reporting, is under the impression that Jenkins might have crossed the line.
The athletes deserve to be treated with some type of respect,” he said. “There are some things a coach can’t do.”
When asked whether the allegations played a role in Jenkins bolting Bethune-Cookman for Alabama State, Moon couldn’t help but question the timing of it all, especially considering that Alabama State didn’t appear to have deep enough coffers to offer the contract Jenkins commanded.
“Someone has to pose the question,” Moon said. “There is no legitimate reason that Alabama State is a better job than Bethune-Cookman. There is no reason anyone would take a $90,000 pay cut out of their base salary.
Jenkins, who was earning $265,000 at Bethune-Cookman, will be making $175,000 in his first season at Alabama State.
For Alabama State, the school was privy to the claims made against Jenkins prior to hiring him, ASU Interim Athletic Director Melvin Hines confirmed.
“What was his (Jenkins) record?” Moon asked in reference to Jenkins’ 46-14 career record. “They knew Bethune-Cookman reported the violations to the NCAA and MEAC. It was all about winning for them.”