CLEVELAND, JULY 17 -- Cleveland State basketball coach Kevin Mackey, describing his last three years as "the descent into hell," admitted today he is an alcohol and drug abuser.
"I was on a collision course to kill myself or somebody else, the way my life was going out of control," Mackey said.
Mackey, 43, was arrested in his car along with a female companion Friday night after police, acting on a tip, staked out a suspected drug house. They saw Mackey emerge and then drive away erratically.
Mackey pleaded not guilty Monday in Cleveland Municipal Court to driving under the influence and having an open beer can in his car. Later Monday, a crime lab's test of a urine sample Mackey voluntarily provided while being booked showed traces of cocaine.
As of today, Mackey had not been charged with a crime stemming from drug use. However, at a news conference that he called, Mackey said he had been a drug abuser for about three years and had been unable to control his drinking over the past five years. The father of three spoke with his wife Kathleen, son Brian and brother Steven near him.
Lawyer David Roth today asked Cleveland State officials to grant Mackey a medical leave of absence. Cleveland State spokesman Ed Mayer confirmed that university officials met with Roth and said a "decision on the course of action regarding Kevin Mackey might come in a few days."
Mackey has posted a 144-67 record since he became Cleveland State's basketball coach in 1983. In 1986, Cleveland State compiled a 29-4 record, advancing to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 and ousting Indiana along the way. He signed a two-year contract Wednesday with a $175,000 base salary.
"Should I be given the opportunity, I will devote all my energy to leading one life, a clean life, to go home at night, to be with the people that love me and care about me," Mackey said. "I think abuse of alcohol led to situations where I would move toward drugs. . . .
"I brought this on myself. This is my fault. There isn't anyone else to blame in this matter. I always tell my players to look in the mirror. When I look in the mirror now, I don't like what I see. I sincerely believe that I am sick, that I have a problem."
He said he was glad he took a urine test, which can reveal drug use, rather than a breathalyzer, which measures only alcohol level.
Asked at the news conference how often he used cocaine, Mackey replied, "Not that frequently."
But Mackey said he led two lives, one as a public figure and family man and the other in drunken or drug-induced stupors. He said he never was under the influence at a game.
"I led two lives. I was totally out of control. It started with the alcohol and it led to drugs. My wife is a saint. She lived with a devil," he said.