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Ault shocked, angered by latest arrest

8/8/2004 - Nevada Wolf Pack

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.

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.