BIO: Seagrave is known worldwide as an expert in speed and is considered one of the leading exponents of applied sports science to today's high performance athlete. Establishing a reputation in Track and Field as one of the best sprint and hurdle coaches in the world, Seagrave has worked with numerous Olympic and World Championship medalists, National and World record holders and collegiate All-Americans. Seagrave has coached Olympians who participated in the last five Olympics. In Seagrave co-coached six Olympians from five different countries including the Silver Medallist in the meters, Pauline Davis. Seagrave is charged with developing the high level programs designed to enhance sports performance to athletes in six different sports. In support of the program, he continues to occasionally lecture at Level One Schools.
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One of them, though, was coming together too late. As some tell it now, in their legal complaints and depositions, even as Seagrave was attending the ceremony last April 12, there were individuals in the LSU athletic department who were on the phone to Baton Rouge city officials, frantically trying to stop the presentation. The ceremony was not stopped. Seagrave and his team were made honorary mayor-presidents by the Metro Council and some individuals across town at LSU were made to seethe.
The other event had unfolded, quite literally, earlier in the day, as sleepy residents of this capital city opened their editions of the Morning Advocate to see a sensational story at the top of the sports section.
It told of how Seagrave, who is married, received a call from one of his female athletes late one night in July of According to the story, she said was distraught and needed to talk to him. Seagrave picked the athlete up at her apartment and drove her to a vacant house that he occasionally rented.
Seagrave said that he and the athlete were at the house for several hours and left about 6 a. He said that during the all-night counseling session, he had hugged the athlete, who has never been named, and kissed her on the cheek, but that nothing of a sexual nature occurred.
Henry took the story to Athletic Director Joe Dean. He has never been given a reason for his termination, which university officials say is in accordance with policy. Seagrave, though, is suing. All in all, that April 12 was a busy day in Baton Rouge. Among other things, it was the official opening day of what people here are calling Tigergate. The heat here has been all but unbearable lately. On this particular Tuesday in June, however, it is simply hot and humid in a way that is energy-sapping.
This is the day Seagrave and his wife, Kathy Freeman, must move out of Apt. They must put their belongings in storage, go to track practice and finish packing for Houston, where some of the athletes Seagrave coaches will compete in the national championships. The next day they will all fly to Europe for the first half of the summer track season there. It is not the best day for Seagrave to sit with a reporter and give his first lengthy interview since his dismissal.
But he is doing it. He is listening to the allegations again, the rumor and the innuendo, just as he has for the past month. It is the sort of gossip that has followed Seagrave from job to job.
Seagrave, as he goes over the events of that night in July a year ago, says he would not change a thing. He would not have hung up on the athlete or told her to talk to someone else. He would not have taken her to a restaurant or coffee shop instead of the house. He would not have refrained from comforting her, even kissing her. And it takes a while. It seems pretty narrow to me. Maybe they have super hang-ups. Henry, who does not smoke or drink and is by all accounts a devout person, is said to have been appalled by the rather freewheeling attitudes held by some college-age women.
From Tegen emerges a portrait of a bright, ambitious coach, one whose personal style was already emerging. Loren was always involved with the athlete beyond the training session. He was a hard worker who was not dismayed by long hours, even by coaching standards. Tegen said, however, that Seagrave had one trait that disturbed him--a tendency to take rules to their very limits.
He was just willing to play them to the fullest. That makes the person who is ultimately responsible very nervous. Because of the margin for rumor, there is probably a need for exaggerated professionalism and a need for caution.
Crawford acknowledges that she, too, has heard the rumors about Seagrave, especially in regard to recruiting violations. But the only incident she offered had to do with something that happened last summer. I found that to be highly unethical. I called his immediate supervisor, Pat Henry, and we took care of it. I think Loren showed poor judgment, at the very least.
Seagrave is not unaware of the talk. But he states flat out that there have not been any recruiting violations. The Southeastern Conference would neither confirm nor deny reports from conference coaches that complaints have been filed against Seagrave. You have to set up the situation so that it is legal. I pride myself in gamesmanship. Knowing the rules and being able to play within the rules and being able to take advantage of situations is all part of gamesmanship.
Regarding allegations that his athletes have tested positive for masking drugs, which hide the presence of steroids in the system--but are not banned by the NCAA--Seagrave responded angrily.
But he has been confronted on another topic--the graduation rate of his athletes. At least one national coach is concerned. He said he befriended Seagrave when the coach was still an assistant at Tennessee. Thompson introduced Seagrave to coaches and athletes in the New York area.
Nobody ever graduated. What the hell was going on? I was sending him all kinds of kids and no one was getting a degree. Kids were coming in for one year, transferring, ineligible. Thompson said Seagrave confronted him about the letter. Everybody in this country knows how I feel about LSU. Thompson is not alone in his concern. The Baton Rouge office of the NAACP threatened a boycott of black athletes at the school to protest what it considers discriminatory hiring practices at the school.
Washington Eames, president of the Baton Rouge NAACP, said he is now looking into the athletic department, which he describes as having a notorious reputation. I cannot tolerate my coaches spending all-night sessions with the opposite sex hugging and kissing. Joe Dean is, of course, a central figure in the controversy. Yet he has been no less controversial for his handling of his own affairs as for the Seagrave case. Among his well-publicized gaffes was his opinion, written in the Feb.
Among the recommendations made at the last NCAA convention in the wake of the study were to eliminate spring football and reduce practice time for football and basketball, reduce the number of games in some sports and not allow any competition during exam periods. Then, on June 14, Dean made some remarks at a luncheon of alumni and legislators.
In the June 15 editions of the Morning Advocate, a group of legislators expressed indignation over those remarks. There have been other embarrassments. Dean, driving a Oldsmobile that records show was leased to the state, drove away and stopped his car at a traffic light. When the driver of the car he had hit approached him, Dean said that he was too busy to stop, according to the report. The woman whose car had been hit then followed Dean onto the LSU campus where he parked at his office.
All of which has led his critics to suggest that Dean was hardly in a position to take the moral high ground when it came to firing Seagrave for exercising bad judgment. By far the most damaging controversy surrounding Dean is the allegation of racial discrimination.
His office, beyond a courtyard in a charming New Orleans-style building downtown, is the usual cluttered affair. Moran does not take many private cases. Moran filed in federal court and did not request a jury trial. Because of this, unless the case is transferred to another district, it will be heard by one of two judges, either of whom may have a conflict.
One judge is also employed by LSU. The other has a son who works at the law firm that is defending LSU. All attorneys involved estimate that even if the case is whisked through the system, it will be more than a year before it sees the inside of a courtroom. If it ever does. One of his foremost questions concerns the procedure by which Seagrave was fired. Moran will argue that Page 5 of the LSU Employee Handbook requires that dismissals may only be for cause and must be in writing.
By doing this, he says, the chancellor is agreeing that the employee should be fired. However, in the grievance process, the final arbiter is also the chancellor--who has already rendered a judgment. Or at least have an impartial hearing. Consider also that Louisiana is the only state that adheres to the Napoleonic Code of civil law, rather then English common of law.
One way this manifests itself is that the courts are limited in the application of the law to the given facts and may not be bound by legal precedents. He even allowed Seagrave to retrieve his own personnel records from the school and pass on only what he thinks is important.
But he has not personally seen the file. Only Seagrave has. It is a pleasant thought. However, there is not much evidence that anyone here may be able to live by the sentiment.
LSU officials have threatened to arrest Seagrave if he shows up at the track. He has received death threats from people who have written to express their opinion of his mixed marriage.
As one of the most expert minds when it comes to developing speed and power, Loren Seagrave is a man with an enviable wealth of knowledge. RunBlogRun's regular contributor Cathal Dennehy caught up with Seagrave recently and, in part one of the twopart interview, he tried to extract some knowledge from the speed guru. Cathal Dennehy: What do you see as the key fundamentals of good sprinting? Loren Seagrave: It all goes back to the biomechanics of the action, and the best biomechanics have evolved over time. A lot of the work done by Dr. Ralph Mann has chronicled that. There's a couple of fundamental things: stride frequency is the more important of the two.
Loren Seagrave, Director of Speed & Movement/IMG Academy, the RBR Interview by Cathal Dennehy