In his first television interview, former ASU Athletic Director Stacy Danley claims he was fired for refusing to take part in a cover-up. Danley was placed on administrative leave in August, and was terminated in late December.
"It was very disturbing, and there were things that I just couldn't be a part of," Danley said.
Danley believes dissatisfaction with his tenure during the recruitment of running back Isaiah Crowell. The university's own investigation found that contact was made with Crowell before coaches had obtained a permission to contact letter from Crowell's family sent by Georgia. That's a secondary violation.
ASU head football coach Reggie Barlow and Director of Football Operations Craig Payne initially provided inconsistent testimony, but later admitted the improper contact.
"The administrators did not want to include the testimony in that report and I said we can't do that," Danley said.
The University self-reported the secondary violations to the NCAA and included the information about Barlow's and Payne's admissions in a footnote.
Danley told WSFA 12 News he wanted to fire Barlow and Payne, but was told to back off.
"I think they had compromised their ability to lead our football program, and their services should be terminated immediately."
In his first comments to WSFA 12 News about the recruitment violations, Reggie Barlow said the situation was a learning experience. He also said Danley never told him about his intentions.
'He was the AD at the time we recruited the student athlete, he was the AD at the time the student athlete came to our campus, as a student," Barlow said. "And at no point did I have any discussions with the former AD about reprimanding or terminating, so this stuff is new to me."
Since secondary violations occurred, Crowell was ineligible to play. And so after their report was filed, university officials began the process of getting Crowell re-instated in time for the Hornets first game on September 2nd in Orlando. ASU Vice-President John Knight accused Danley of not moving quickly enough and not showing leadership at a critical time for the athletic program.
Danley said he suggested that since time was short, Michael Buckner, the attorney ASU hired to handle the investigation into the recruitment, handle the reinstatement process. Once Buckner told Danley he did not have the same access to the NCAA system as university administrators did, Danley began working on the case. Danley said the process was completed Saturday evening, except for a statement from Crowell, but he had gone home to Georgia for the weekend.
John Knight and other university officials submitted the report early Monday morning. And Crowell was cleared to play.
Danley placed on leave
University officials put Danley on leave on August 29th. In October, John Knight gave ten bases for Danley's termination. In November, hearing judge Troy Massey found Danley guilty of four of the charges - including the one centered on Crowell's re-instatement. The hearing judge found that "had Danley shown proper leadership, the student athlete would have remained on campus."
"I think the record is very clear that not only was I present," Danley said in response to the charge. "I personally put the information in the system for Isaiah Crowell's reinstatement."
Massey also found Danley of a charge involving his conduct at a meeting on June 4th. Danley and John Knight had a heated discussion over which department would fund and control the university's academic support center for athletes. Massey agreed that Danley had been "insubordinate" and "unprofessional."
Danley denies the charges, and said if he had acted in that manner, he would have been fired on the spot.
Massey also writes in the report that "initial excitement and euphoria" surrounding Danley's hiring "gave way to frustration and disappointment."
"We appreciate the opportunity to work with him at the time, unfortunately here's a guy who was given the opportunity to be the AD at our university and lead our program and for whatever reason he wasn't able to get it done," said Barlow.
Danley bristled at those charges.
"We ran a clean program, we made sure we graduated students, we won championships. I'm very proud of the performance, the record speaks for itself, that's one thing they cannot erase," Danley said.
Danley says he refused to accept a buyout offer before the proceedings, because he still maintains he was wrongly terminated.
"My old football coach Pat Dye taught me something, when somebody backs you in a corner, you better come out fighting. So I have to fight for my name, I'll have to fight for my career, I have to fight for my family and that's what I plan to do."
ASU says the university followed the procedures for termination as set forth in the employment contract it negotiated with Danley. Danley has retained legal counsel.
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