Throwing strikes

Chuck Knoblauch chokes in the clutch. Plus, the SUNY-Binghamton story gets worse.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  October 7, 2009

0910_knob_main

For us New Englanders, Chuck Knoblauch was always kind of tough to take. Yankee fans gushed about how "gritty" and "hardworking" he was, when in reality he was just short and white and kind of gnomish-looking. The love affair Yankee fans had with him was similar to Red Sox Nation's infatuation with Trot Nixon, but that doesn't mean we can't still have negative feelings about Knoblauch. And let's admit it, we all gloated a little last year when his name popped up in steroid investigations and he was hauled in to testify before Congress, with his shamed family in tow.

Now we hear more bad news about Knoblauch. It seems he and his soon-to-be-estranged common-law wife, Stacey Stelmach, got in a fight outside their Houston-area home and decided to replay that scene from Goodfellas when Karen throws Henry's car keys into a bush to keep him from going out. ("I'm still gonna go out, Karen!") In this case, it seems the wife's motivation was to prevent Knoblauch from climbing behind the wheel of his Escalade (it's always an Escalade, isn't it?) while drunk and high. Knoblauch, in turn, reportedly punched Stelmach in the face and put his hands around her neck, a moment he probably came to regret when his lawyer told him that choking pushed the level of the crime up a notch — that's now a third-degree felony, thanks to recent changes in Texas criminal law.

The court immediately issued a protective order forbidding contact between the two. There are separate court proceedings underway to dissolve their common-law arrangement. Knoblauch was released on a $10,000 bond and will have to endure some more embarrassing headlines. Give him 60 points for striking his wife.

Binghamton fallout
Nobody's saying why, but in the wake of the "Tiki" Mayben crack-slinging scandal at the State University of New York at Binghamton last week, five more players — Malik Alvin, Corey Chandler, D.J. Rivera, Paul Crosby, and David Fine — were summarily dismissed. The school claimed the releases were not related to the Mayben incident, but who knows?

SUNY-Binghamton is enduring one of those whole-program implosions. Its athletic director, Joel Thirer, has resigned. The school is also dealing with a sexual-harassment suit involving two employees from the athletic department. Moreover, Binghamton is still sorting out accusations issued by an adjunct lecturer named Sally Dear, who claims she was pressured to give good grades to athletes who didn't deserve them. Somewhat suspiciously, the school canned Dear last week, citing, if you can believe this, the "uncertain fiscal environment" and "strategic reprioritization of resources across the university." (That decision was later reversed, though she was transferred to another department.)

In February, Dear told the New York Times that numerous basketball players in her Human Development class were frequently absent and/or disruptive in class. In one case, a player was continually text-messaging; turns out he was getting a message from coach Kevin Broadus.

Broadus has not been fired, but he is becoming a controversial figure at the school. He was an assistant at Georgetown and George Washington University before coming to Binghamton, and was known to have recruited players from Philly's Lutheran Christian Academy, a notorious diploma-mill high school. At Binghamton, he grabbed lots of players with uneven pasts, including a Gonzaga dropout with a weed arrest and several other athletes (including onetime Syracuse recruit Mayben) who had to transfer from bigger programs (or not go at all) for academic reasons.

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