School suspends head football coach and two assistants

Updated: August 1, 2003, 7:22 PM ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama State football coach L.C. Cole said he and two of his assistants were suspended for two weeks Friday by the university, which recently completed an eight-month internal investigation into the program.

Cole learned of the suspensions upon returning from the Southwestern Athletic Conference media day in Birmingham, just three days before the players were scheduled to report for preseason practice.

"When I got back to the office, I was told I had a letter at the security office," Cole told The Associated Press.

Cole said the letter indicated the suspension came on the recommendation of athletic director Richard Cosby, who had announced the previous day that he had resigned and would resume his duties as athletic director at Stillman College on Monday.

Cosby, Alabama State President Joe A. Lee and other university officials did not immediately return calls Friday evening seeking comment.

Stillman officials also couldn't immediately be reached.

Cole said his brother and assistant head coach, Johnnie Cole, and assistant Richard Freeman were also suspended. All three coaches came to Alabama State from Tennessee State.

The Hornets open the season Aug. 30 against Florida A&M in Detroit.

Cosby called Cole's program "almost totally out of control" after submitting the findings of the internal investigation to the NCAA on July 22. Among the charges were that the program used ineligible players, changed athletes' grades and entertained recruits with strippers.

Cole has denied any wrongdoing.

He said he warned then-President William Harris about problems with the university's compliance department in 2000, when the team allegedly allowed four ineligible players to practice.

Cole said he didn't know who would lead the football program in his absence.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "It's kind of a little bit of a sad and unprofessional way to handle the situation.

"The coaches here don't know what direction they're going or anything. Nobody's talking to them either."

Cole had attended an alumni meeting in Atlanta with Lee and board of trustees chairwoman TeretheaJohnson on Thursday.

The university has declared at least five Alabama State players ineligible for failing to meet with a consultant regarding the investigation.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index