The arrest of four football players brought swift action from Coach Gary Patterson and the school, but what will be the lasting impact on a program that has been highly regarded?
Linebacker Tanner Brock, defensive lineman D.J. Yendrey, offensive tackle Ty Horn and cornerback Devin Johnson were arrested for allegedly dealing drugs after what police said was a six-month investigation, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Fifteen of the 18 arrested are students and it is unclear whether more football players were involved or will be charged, according to police.
According to affidavits, players said drug use on the team was widespread.
The arrests left TCU, whose national profile has been rising because of its football success and reputation, reeling. In March, Sports Illustrated reported that the Horned Frogs roster was the only one in the top 25 that didn’t include a player with a police record. Out of the top 25 schools, only TCU and Oklahoma, according to SI, perform background checks on prospective players.
“There are days people want to be a head football coach, but today is not one of those days,” Coach Gary Patterson said in a statement released by the school. “As I heard the news [Wednesday] morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad. Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student-athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period.
“Our program is respected nationally for its strong ethics and for that reason the players arrested today were separated from TCU by the university. I believe strongly that young people's lives are more important than wins or losses.”
The Star-Telegram reported that, according to affidavits, Patterson ordered players to take drug tests on National Signing Day (Feb. 1) because a prized recruit had said he would not attend the school because of drug use by players. According to affidavits, Brock, asked by an undercover officer about the team test, said he wasn't worried because there “would be about 60 people being screwed” as a result. An undercover officer asked Johnson the same question and he replied, “What can they do? Eighty-two people failed it.”
The damage to TCU immediately is devastating; long-term, it certainly will survive in large part because of Patterson’s actions, according to Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas.
“Perhaps he’s simply observed what’s happened at Ohio State and Penn State recently and decided the fallout from the cover-up is so much worse than the crime that it’s far better to come clean and deal with the consequences,” Taylor wrote. “Either way, Patterson should be applauded for having the gumption to reportedly order team-wide drug testing when a recruit told him that he was declining a scholarship offer because of the drug culture. Instead of keeping the information to himself, or telling his boss and letting him handle it, Patterson acted.”
Randy Galloway of the Star-Telegram sees an indelible mark remaining. “As with most all other college programs involved in scandal or bad headlines created by the actions of players, TCU’s football program will overcome this. Patterson is too strong, too respected and too good for that not to happen. But gone forever is that one element that always had separated TCU from most of the rest. The clean image has been stained. No matter what else, it’s a stain that remains.”