PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Former Pitt Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt responded to the Sports Illustrated/CBS News report that showed Pitt was the nation’s top-ranked team when it came to players getting into trouble with the law.
Wannstedt acknowledged “an unfortunate stretch of incidents last summer.” However, he remains proud of his staff’s “body of work,” given that over the course of his time there, his record was nearly spotless.
“Every player was evaluated and scrutinized, and we tried to project whether they would become productive members of our football program as well as the university at large,” Wannstedt said by phone, repeating comments he made to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a day earlier.
“Every player and each incident was evaluated on an individual basis. And we did our due diligence to make sure that we treated each player fair.”
Pitt’s off-field troubles became the center of negative attention starting in July. That’s when defensive end Jabaal Sheard was suspended indefinitely after being accused of throwing another man through a glass door. Sheard eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct.
Defensive back Jeffrey Knox was kicked off the team in September after being arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend after she told him she was pregnant.
Also, offensive lineman Keith Coleman and running back Jason Douglas were suspended from the team in September after being arrested on several charges in separate instances.
Wannstedt said he and the school acted quickly and fairly in disciplining each player, and he would be willing to hold his record up against anyone.
Following Knox’s arrest, Pitt did change its recruiting policy, providing coaches a checklist of questions to gather more information on a recruit’s background.
On Wednesday, Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson called the number of criminal charges against his players as “totally unacceptable.” Pederson said the school is addressing the issue and moving forward.