Post Classifieds

Where's Bacari?

Basketball coach M.I.A. since Nov. 13; athletic dept. mum

On December 5, 2017

 

 

VARSITY NEWS STAFF REPORTS

 

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. 12/6/17 Editor's note: Less than 24 hours after this article was published, the athletic department on Wednesday confirmed that Bacari Alexander had returned to the team. It did not give a reason for his departure. "The university is happy to have coach Alexander back with us and leading this team," Athletic Director Robert Vowels said in a statement. "We are thankful that this internal personnel issue is now resolved and we look forward to coach Alexander's return and a successful season." 

 

Bacari Alexander played all 40 minutes of the Titans’ last NCAA tournament victory against UCLA on March 11, 1999, scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds as a starting  forward.

Alexander should have played a key role in the teams’ rematch Sunday night in California -- this time, as a second-year head coach. But, for the seventh-straight game, he was inexplicably absent.

Alexander signed a reported seven-year contract at the start of last season that the Detroit Free Press said would cost Detroit Mercy between $450,000 and $475,000 per year. But since Nov. 13, Alexander has not been with the team, and the university’s athletic department will not say why.

As a private university, UDM is not subject to open records requests and is not required to divulge such information. But as Alexander’s absence – The Detroit News reported it as a suspension -- stretches into its third week, it’s becoming an unavoidable black eye for a basketball program that’s been rocked by coaching sex scandals and star player suspensions over the past five seasons.

“Thank you for your inquiry. Per university official protocol, Detroit Mercy does not provide public comment on internal personnel issues,” the university said in an emailed statement to The Varsity News, echoing the same line it’s given media since Alexander missed his first game.

After that first missed contest against the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the athletic department said in its post-game notes that Alexander would miss only one game. But that hasn’t been the case.

Alexander, usually active on Twitter, has not posted anything since a Nov. 13 tweet posing with the Tommy Titan mascot. He has, however, re-tweeted a number of university posts.

Assistant head coach Jermaine Jackson, a holdover from previous head coach Ray McCallum’s staff, has led the team, which has started the season 4-4.

The Detroit Free Press last month quoted Athletic Director Robert Vowels as saying Alexander would eventually return to the team this year, although he did not offer a timetable.

"It's a personnel matter, it's internal, and we're addressing it," Vowels told the Free Press. "Things are moving along and we're taking care of the situation.

"We have to still work through a couple things, and hopefully we work those things internally, and then we'll make a decision (on a timetable)."

Although The Detroit News labeled Alexander’s absence as a suspension, Vowels has so far not publicly called it one. In the past, Vowels has announced when a coach was serving a suspension, as he did in 2015 when then-head women’s coach Autumn Rademacher sat out one game for violating NCAA rules pertaining to countable hours for student-athletes.

The men’s basketball program has struggled with off-the-court issues in recent years. Before the team’s Horizon League championship run in 2012, star player Eli Holman was suspended after an alleged altercation at a fraternity party. In 2013, the program was rocked by a sex scandal involving then-Athletic Director Keri Gaither and assistant coach Derek Thomas that resulted in both being let go. Another assistant coach, Carlos Briggs, was also fired.

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