Winning isn’t the only thing, not at Seton Hall

Seton Hall University is the oldest and largest Catholic university in New Jersey. It also has been a basketball power, on and off, for the past 60 years. This year the Pirates seemed on the verge of returning to the elite of college basketball, posting a 19-13 record, including 9-9 in the Big East Conference, the nation’s toughest.

The return was led by coach Bobby Gonzalez, who posted a 66-59 record over four years. But Gonzalez brought a mixed blessing to Seton Hall: the university often had more reason to be ashamed of the Pirates than to be proud of them. Gonzalez repeatedly clashed with everybody: his players, opposing players, his coaches, opposing coaches, game officials, and his superiors at Seton Hall. Players he recruited were charged with serious crimes.

Tuesday it ended. In the afternoon a player Gonzalez had just kicked off the team was arrested and charged with first degree robbery and kidnapping. Later, in the opening minutes of the Pirates’ tournament game against Texas Tech, one of their starters was ejected for punching an opposing player in the groin. Then Gonzalez drew his seventh technical foul of the season.

That was enough for Patrick Hobbs, the university law school dean who has been overseeing the athletic department. Hobbs fired Gonzalez, explaining, “Performance and success are not measured solely by wins and losses, but also in the conduct of those associated with the program. We have expectations as to how our coaches and players will conduct themselves, and they are expected to treat everyone they interact with, whether officials, the press or our students, with the utmost respect, maturity and professionalism.”

That’s enough to put Seton Hall on our short honor roll of universities (along with the University of Oregon and Texas Tech) that put behavior first, winning second.


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