We all know by now that Devin Thomas has been suspended for the next two games, while Cornelius Hudson has been kicked off the team for a "violation of team rules". I wish Hudson nothing but the best in his future endeavors, and hope that Thomas comes back strong from his suspension to finish his Wake Forest career in style.
The timing of this article has little to do with the suspension of the two student-athletes, and mostly with an interview by Ron Wellman following the news yesterday.
This is yet another failure in the Wake Forest basketball program that has stemmed back an astounding six years since Dino Gaudio was fired as the head coach. Gaudio went 61-31 in three years after taking over following the stunningly premature death of beloved coach Skip Prosser. Since April 7th, 2010, Wake Forest basketball is 74-111 (40%), including a laughable 23-78 (23%) Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Not only has Wake Forest lost games on the court, they have lost games off the court as well, putting forth what a national writer referred to as a "seminar in mass alienation" in 2012. After firing Dino Gaudio, Athletics Director Ron Wellman hired what can only be looked back on as a comically horrendous coach in Jeff Bzdelik. He lost games at a record pace, and did whatever it took, including criticizing players, recruits, fans, and media alike to avoid the blame falling at his feet.
The most recent media relations gaffe came today from Mr. Wellman, where he consistently and maddeningly had no answers for what has become of the Wake Forest basketball program. Here are two examples of what comes across as extreme and surreal condescension to the Wake Forest fan base and those who support the program despite 6 years of complete and utter ineptitude:
When asked about how the season has gone off the rails, Mr. Wellman responded that he is "encouraged by our future, EXTREMELY encouraged by our future...the season has not gone the way ANY of us wanted after the New Year, but that does not calm my enthusiasm for the future."
When asked how he can convince the fan base that this is not a program in disarray, Mr. Wellman paused for several seconds before replying, "that's a good question Dan (Collins), and I think that each fan has to dig deep to determine/make that decision."
The second statement I am baffled and confused by. I do not know if Mr. Wellman is insinuating that you have to "dig deep" to find something that has gone wrong, or if he means that each fan has to "dig deep" to find something that has gone right. The first statement is factually incorrect, while the second statement postulates something, as a paying supporter of Wake Forest basketball, I should never have to contemplate.
As a fan, and season ticket holder, I should never have to "dig deep" to determine whether or not my alma mater and favorite entertainment is, or is not, in disarray. This is a microcosm of the inane babble that continues to show why Ron Wellman and the entire athletic media relations department have absolutely no concept of how the fan base feels - much less how to communicate in an effective manner to quell these concerns.
It is the job of Wake Forest --- the team, the staff, the media relations department, and the athletic department, to prove to ME, the fan, that this is a product worth watching. College athletics, as much as I hate to admit it, is a business. If you put out a bad product, then nobody is going to buy it. Right now Wake Forest is putting out one of the worst possible products that I can imagine, and yet is still expecting people to blindly accept and buy what is being put out there.
As a fan, consumer, and alum, I am offended and demand better from the school that I attended.
Beyond those two phrases, it is the continued buzzwords of "establish a foundation", or "establish a culture of winning" that just makes me chuckle and shake my head disapprovingly. After six years of trying to put out the absolute dumpster fire that is Wake Forest basketball, there is still a fundamental lack of understanding that this was brought on needlessly through faux self-imposed "sanctions" from recruiting players, to the last coaching staff that was assembled.
The entire video can be viewed below if you so choose to spend 8-9 minutes of your life in anger. Credit for the video goes to Deacon Illustrated over at Rivals - check out the site here for solid coverage.
Simply stated, Ron Wellman continues to exhibit an astonishing level of tone deafness related to the current situation with Wake Forest basketball. Undoubtedly the flagship sport of the university, it seems almost unbelievable that a program could devolve from where it was in the middle of the 2009 season to where it currently sits in 2016.
Not only was the program ranked number one in the country during that season, the team was likely playing some of the best (if not THE best) basketball in Wake Forest history. Additionally, Wake Forest had managed to string together a remarkable run over the previous 15 to 20 years assuredly solidifying the basketball program as a top 20 to 25 program in the country over recent history.
The precipitous drop that followed was not only unexpected, but quite frankly only exacerbated by the types of comments Ron Wellman made, yet again, today. This follows the "legendary" interview while Bzdelik was still here where Wellman incredulously uttered that he "couldn't be happier" about the direction the basketball program was going. As Riley mentioned above, Wellman's continued usage of buzz words and supposed platitudes just keeps ringing hollow as Wake basketball wallows in the depths of irrelevancy in the national basketball landscape.
The hiring of Bzdelik was disastrous - alone a fireable offense for an Athletics Director who, from what we are aware of, does not even make the bulk of the coaching decisions for the non-revenue sports - an area where the Deacs have admittedly been solid over the course of the 2015-16 season. The way that Wellman has handled the fan base: patronizingly, condescendingly, and seemingly mockingly, makes me only wish we had multiple opportunities to fire him for the various levels of just plain idiocy we have suffered through over the previous few years.
Since 2008, 17 of the 26 basketball recruits who have come to Wake Forest have either been kicked out of school or transferred. Perhaps it would behoove the AD and various administration associated with the basketball team to "dig deep" to convince THEMSELVES that the program isn't an absolute dumpster fire. I have not donated a cent to Wake Forest athletics since Bzdelik was hired, kept for four incredibly long years, and finally let go. This isn't because I'm not passionate about Demon Deacon athletics (hopefully evidenced by my lifelong fanhood, degree from the school, and lengthy stint writing for this blog), but rather because I simply do not trust Wellman or the AD with my money whatsoever.
While there are certainly places that this money could be donated to support non-revenue programs, I refuse to contribute a penny to what has somehow gone beyond a seminar in mass alienation and has now reached titanic and seemingly irreparable proportions.
Ultimately, Ron Wellman has been right about one thing though: Wake Forest athletics had and has a culture problem. The only thing he was wrong about was whence the culture problem cameth. There is only one plausible explanation at this point who cultivated the problematic and endemic losing culture that Ron Wellman continually drones on and on about and that is Ron Wellman himself.
It's time now, and it has been time, to fire Ron Wellman as the AD. Anything short of this is simply unacceptable for Wake Forest University.