A year after being celebrated as one of the top college football coaches in the country, Towson's Rob Ambrose has been accused by a disgruntled former player of breaking NCAA rules and making offensive remarks to help pump up his team in a pre-game pep talk earlier this season.
In a letter to the school newspaper, The Towerlight, Trevor Walker wrote that Ambrose lied to the athletic department's compliance officer about the number of hours the team practiced this summer and that the fourth-year coach used inappropriate language on many occasions, including before a game against St. Francis last month.
Walker, a senior defensive back from Bensalem, Pa., also wrote that defensive coordinator Matt Hachmann cursed at him earlier this month after Walker went to the coach's office to ask him about his diminished role.
Towson athletic director Mike Waddell said in an e-mail to the newspaper that his compliance officers conducted an investigation.
"No improprieties regarding practice times were found and no findings indicated that the physical well-being of football student-athletes was placed in jeopardy," Waddell said in the e-mail. "As a matter of departmental protocol, the language that was reportedly used between the coaches and student-athletes would not be in line with the core values of Towson University and Towson Athletics. This is being addressed with all parties involved, coaches, staff and student-athletes."
A part-time starter at linebacker in 2010 when the Tigers finished 1-10, Walker missed last season's turnaround because of an injury. Towson finished 9-3 and made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time. Walker was moved to the secondary this season, but played in just one of the team's first seven games.
The letter, which came after Walker was dismissed from the team by Ambrose, detailed an account of what Walker said was Ambrose's filing incorrect practice and meeting times with the athletic department's compliance offiers. Walker said that Ambrose and his staff exceeded the five hours a day deemed allowable by the NCAA.
Walker also paraphrased his coach's pre-game speech.
"'I do not care what your religion is,'" Walker wrote that Ambrose said. "'I do not care if I offend anyone. But even if Jesus and his disciples come in here on Saturday, we are going to [expletive] them up and get them the [expletive] out of here.'"
Walker added that the statement "offended many players on the team especially those with strong Christian beliefs," adding that "there are many other questionable things said we believe are crossing the line of ethics."
The allegations made by Walker, who said that his complaint to university officials was signed by roughly two dozen other players, came after star tailback Terrance West tweeted a comment after being held out of last Saturday's 31-20 loss at home to Old Dominion, implying to some that he was going to leave the school.
The tweet — "It's been good Towson!!!!" — has since been taken down and an athletic department spokesman said Tuesday that West (Northwestern) remains on the team. Towson (3-4) plays at Villanova on Saturday.
West, who won the Jerry Rice Award last season as the nation's top freshman in FCS, was reported to have sat out the game because of a death in the family.
Ambrose, who was rewarded with a contract extension after last season, when he was given the Eddie Robinson Award as the top coach in the FCS, did not return telephone calls from The Baltimore Sun seeking comment.
According to The Towerlight, preliminary investigations into Walker's allegations were made by the president's office, the faculty representative to the athletic department and by a deputy athletic director, according to the president's chief of staff.
A statement released to the newspaper by the president's office read that, "The investigation included but was not limited to unplanned practice observations, review of football student-athlete exit-interviews, and sports medicine reports.
"No findings suggested that the well-being and welfare of our student-athletes were placed in jeopardy. We will continue to uphold the values of the institution and appreciate the department of Athletics swift action to address this student-athlete's concern."
Waddell did not respond to messages seeking response from The Baltimore Sun. The athletic department spokesman said that Waddell had been in meetings all day with the university task force looking into recent recommendations to cut the men's soccer and baseball teams.