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Montana State fires coach after string of ex-player legal problems

Montana State fired football coach Mike Kramer on Friday,
several days after another former Bobcats athlete was arrested on
drug charges.

Kramer was 40-43 in seven seasons at the Bozeman school,
including an 8-5 mark last year. He led the Bobcats to three Big
Sky Conference titles and three NCAA playoff appearances.

"It starts with leadership," athletic director Peter Fields
said. "When you look at our football program's recent history, it
is apparent that its direction does not fit with what this
university is all about."

Fields said he made the decision Friday, which was confirmed by
school president Geoff Gamble and vice president for student
affairs Allen Yarnell.

Kramer was not in his office late Friday and did not return a
call to his cell phone seeking comment.

Former wide receiver Rick Gatewood was arrested this week on
drug charges and is accused of using his athletic scholarship money
to traffic cocaine from California in the Bozeman area. His brother
also faces drug charges.

Gatewood is the sixth former Montana State athlete arrested or
charged with crimes involving drugs or murder in the past year.

Gatewood, a Richmond, Calif., native, was an all-Big Sky
Conference wide receiver in 2004 and 2005. He signed with the
Oakland Raiders as a free agent last summer, but didn't make the
team, and was expected to try out with baseball's Philadelphia
Phillies this month.

Montana State cornerback Andre Fuller pleaded not guilty in
March to charges he sold cocaine to a confidential informant last
June. He was suspended from the football team while the case is
investigated.

Former wide receiver Edward Sullivan of Carlsbad, Calif., and
Derrick Davis Jr., a former cornerback from Santa Monica, Calif.,
also have been charged with selling drugs.

And last June, former redshirt football player John Lebrum and
former Bobcat basketball player Branden Miller were charged with
murder and kidnapping in the shooting death of suspected drug
dealer Jason Wright. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled
for trial in the coming months.

In October 2004, former assistant head football coach Joe
O'Brien was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a
methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

A nationwide search for Kramer's replacement will begin
immediately, sports information director Bill Lamberty said.

Montana State opens its 2007 regular season Sept. 1 at Texas
A&M.

The Bobcats posted their first postseason win in 22 years when
they beat Furman 31-13 in the Division I-AA championships last
fall, and finished the season ranked 10th in the NCAA Football
Championship Subdivision. Montana State was beaten 38-17 by
eventual champion Appalachian State in the I-AA quarterfinals.