June 1, 2006
WINSTON-SALEM -- Wake Forest took an image hit recently when a hazing story made national news, but it's avoided one so far on another issue, the possible theft-related problems of football player L.J. Flintall.
The hazing story started when a website called badjocks.com posted a number of photos from different schools, all involving hazing in some way. For Wake, the photos were posted in early 2005 and involve the volleyball team from 2004. Someone posted them to webshots.com, a popular posting site, and they eventually were found by badjocks.com.
Most of the photos appear fairly harmless, mainly involving paint, blindfolds and lampshades. However, some are more serious, showing players bound to a pole with tape and with pornographic drawings on their bodies.
Some of the players in the photos are still at the school, although the coach is not. Valorie Baker left after the 2005 season to become the assistant athletic director at an all-girls school in Nashville. Her assistant, Heather Kahl, was promoted.
Wake Forest, like most schools these days, has a strict no-hazing policy. The school is investigating and likely will make an example of the athletes and possibly Kahl, if she's found to be involved. Hazing is an issue that has become so politically incorrect that there are few exceptions made.
In addition, the story made various national news programs, meaning Wake likely will fear that if the school comes off as weak, that too will be picked up nationally.
The Flintall story is still in limbo and hasn't been picked up by major media outlets yet. Flintall, a redshirt freshman running back, was kicked out of summer school after being accused of stealing more than 30 iPods.
Flintall is fighting the accusation, saying he wasn't there at the time. His door card linked him to the scene, but he says the whole situation is a mistake.
The Deacons have a lot of depth at running back, but Flintall provides some outside speed and elusiveness that the other backs don't have. He would be a big loss for the future, though probably not this year, if the accusations turn out to be true.
Speaking of running backs, new starter Micah Andrews recently said more than a mouthful to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer.
"It's not a knock on Chris (Barclay), but I never felt that any of Chris' accomplishments were something I have to obtain or anything like that," Andrews said. "I just want us to win some games and perhaps take us to a bowl. Chris' accomplishments were great accomplishments. But if I play like I think I can, I can surpass his accomplishments with ease."
Considering that Barclay was the top back in school history and one of the ACC's all-time best, that's a pretty bold statement.
Granted, Andrews has been spectacular in some of his outings, including a 254-yard game against Vanderbilt last season. But he's got a long way to go to 4,032 yards, 40 touchdowns and ACC player of the year status.
Andrews would need to average about 130 yards and more than a touchdown per game for the rest of his career to approach Barclay's numbers.
BASKETBALL PROGRAM: NEWS, NOTES
Wake Forest will play cross-town Winston-Salem State for real this year. The Demon Deacons and the Rams have played exhibition games for the last two seasons, including Wake's four-point win last year.
But as WSSU made the move to Division I, it needed opponents for its real schedule. Wake will be the home team, and WSSU will not receive more than a regular visitor's share (about 100) of the tickets.
Still, this is a classy move by Wake. It will bring luster and excitement to WSSU's changes, and the game will be the talk of the town. The more competitive WSSU becomes, though, the more Wake will look to cancel the series in a few years.
Wake added WSSU, but it fell from the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Because the Big Ten has 11 schools, one of the ACC schools has to sit out. That will be Wake, as the last-place finisher in 2005-06. The Deacons will miss a chance to extend their prowess, as they're 6-1 in past Challenge games. Only Duke is better, at 7-0.
Tim Fuller, Wake's director of basketball operations, resigned to take a job as an aide at Fairfield. Assistant Jeff Battle got Fuller the connection, and Fuller left behind the glorified gopher role at Wake for a spot on Ed Cooley's new staff.
Fuller, a Winston-Salem native, had spent his whole school and work resume in the same area of North Carolina. From that standpoint, the move was surprising. But those who know Fuller understood long ago that he was ready to shed that "operations" label and move on to bigger things.
No obvious successor is waiting in the wings, but coach Skip Prosser might stick to a list of former players, as it's a perfect job for someone who wants to learn the business.