Ault shocked, angered by latest arrest

Updated: August 8, 2004, 7:31 PM ET
Associated Press

RENO, Nev. -- Nevada begins practice Monday under new leadership and a dark cloud after the arrests of nine Wolf Pack football players on felony charges over the last 1½ years.

Coach Chris Ault expressed shock and anger after the latest arrest, and questioned the recruiting practices of former coach Chris Tormey, now assistant head coach at Washington.

I tried to do it the right way, but the world revolves around money, and it (robberies) was my only option ... It would've been worth it if I hadn't gotten caught.
Rodney Landingham, recently arrested for armed robbery.

Sophomore cornerback Rodney Landingham was arrested Thursday on suspicion of robbing a Wells Fargo Bank in Reno. Police said he later admitted to three other armed robberies in Reno this summer.

On July 30, junior defensive end Brenton Kendrick and sophomore cornerback Steven Murphy were arrested on multiple drug charges in downtown Reno.

"I think these incidents of the last week make it very clear why our program is in the fragile and unrespected position it is today," said Ault, who was hired for his third tour as head coach in December.

"Looking at this last (string of arrests), coupled with some things prior, I feel the moral fiber of this football program was in perception only," he added.

The cases date back to early last year when wide receiver Gary Snyder was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and defensive end Craig Bailey was booked on battery charges.

Late last year, running backs Joe Bwire and B.J. Mitchell and cornerback Chris Handy were indicted on battery charges stemming from a June fight near campus.

And in April, special teams player Randy Landingham was indicted on burglary and obtaining money under false pretenses charges in a forged check scheme. He's Rodney Landingham's twin brother.

Ault said all nine players were recruited by Tormey, who posted a 16-31 record in four years at Nevada, including 6-6 last season. Tormey was hired and fired by Ault, former athletic director.

"These are not the type of players I want associated with our program," Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "You certainly have to question the type of players who have been recruited here in the past.

"College kids do dumb college things like fraternity parties and that stuff. But these are criminal acts. Getting rid of this kind of cancer is a tough thing, but you have to do it," he added.

Tormey and Washington Athletic Department spokesman Jim Daves did not immediately return phone calls.

Nevada assistant coach Jim Mastro, who was recruiting coordinator under Tormey and holds the same position under Ault, said it's the head coach's responsibility to decide which players to recruit.

"The difference is that Coach Ault clearly defines what kind of player he wants in the program," Mastro said. "A lot of these kids we're having trouble with now, under Coach Ault, they would have never made it to the front door of campus."

Ault said future recruits would undergo more scrutiny.

"We are going to take all of the precautions and check character," he said. "This is paramount with me. If there is anything there with an asterisk, we don't need to be recruiting them.

"I had my problems in the past and I will have my problems. But they will be college problems, not this kind of stuff," he said.

In an interview with Reno station KRNV-TV, Rodney Landingham admitted to the Wells Fargo robbery and three other armed robberies in Reno this summer.

He said a gambling habit left him in debt and he hopes a judge will go easy on him.

"I tried to do it the right way, but the world revolves around money, and it (robberies) was my only option ... It would've been worth it if I hadn't gotten caught," Landingham said.

Landingham, 21, played the 2002 season at Oregon State and was forced to sit out the 2003 season under NCAA rules after transferring to Nevada.

Under Nevada rules, players accused of felonies are immediately dismissed from the team.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press