Was Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Stallings Really Out of Line?

Recently, Vanderbilt’s head men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings received criticism for the way he handled an unsportsmanlike showing from one of his better players. After the Commodores overcame Tennessee for a 73-65 victory, the players lined up to shake hands. Wade Baldwin IV began clapping in the face of opposing forward Armani Moore. After begin made known of the poor behavior, Stallings took Baldwin from the line and began a profanity laced tirade of his player’s actions, including the line “I am going to f***ing kill you!” The incident is being handled internally. But did Stallings do anything wrong? Although maybe a little inappropriate, Stallings has always been a coach that stood for good sportsmanship and a well disciplined team. So his player acting with poor sportsmanship and Stallings reacting isn’t exactly out of character for the Vanderbilt coach. And it was a player on his team rather than a Vol. So why the big fuss and is it warranted? Find out what I think after the jump.

Everyone can remember former Rutgers Men’s basketball coach Mike Rice Jr., and not for the right reasons. For those of you who live under a rock, Mike Rice Jr. was an up and coming NCAA Division I basketball coach who landed a gig at Rutgers after leading Robert Morris to the big dance in 2009. And in 2013 Mike Rice Jr. practically ensured he would never coach in the NCAA for a very, very long time, if ever again. In 2013, ESPN aired clips of Rutgers practices, where Rice physically and verbally abused his players for not performing in the way he wanted them to. This abuse included homophobic slurs and throwing basketballs hard against the back of their heads. 

Stallings verbal tirade is no where near the severity of Mike Rice Jr., yet it is receiving similar national attention. Why? I for one am perfectly fine with the way he handled the situation. Yes, he may have used poor phrasing, but he saw an issue his player was causing, and held him accountable in front of the whole world. Do you think Baldwin will ever act in that manner again? I certainly wouldn’t. You see, college sports is all about developing young men and women into mature adults. This isn’t pee-wee basketball, where the players haven’t been exposed to such foul language, or the only person allowed to discipline them are their parents. Coaches are meant to be a tool to help these student-athletes grow into adults so they won’t make these mistakes at a higher level. I applaud Stallings for sticking true to his guns and his character and doing what he feels is right. And maybe, if this ever happens again, which I have a feeling no player will ever want to act in an unsportsmanlike manner in front of the Vandy head coach ever again, Stallings too will grow from this experience and leave words like “kill” out of his discipline. 

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