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Landon: Marshall gives 2nd chance to new hire

Jun. 09, 2009 @ 12:15 AM

I am a staunch advocate of second chances.

Who among us hasn't needed a few during our lives?

Which leads to the Marshall football program's recent hiring of Kyle Lingerfelt as director of High School Relations in the recruiting office.

You see, in 1995 Lingerfelt was involved in an incident while serving as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Cincinnati.

According to a story in May 3, 1997, editions of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Lingerfelt stole monies that were supposed to be used for prospective student-athletes on unofficial visits, their guests and high school football coaches to purchase meals.

The University of Cincinnati estimated the stolen amount was $800 to $2,000.

During UC's investigation of Lingerfelt's activities, school officials also discovered Lingerfelt had allowed quarterback Chad Plummer to make several long-distance telephone calls at no charge, which was an NCAA violation.

The long-distance charges were valued at only $19.

Although a recruiting coordinator shouldn't make such an obvious violation, the theft was a much more serious issue.

After Cincinnati's athletic business office couldn't account for the monies in the account Lingerfelt controlled,then-UC head coach Rick Minter (now Marshall's defensive coordinator) told Lingerfelt he wanted to see all the records related to the provision of meals.

After a review of the records, Minter asked for Lingerfelt's resignation. Lingerfelt complied and the next day admitted to then-UC athletic director Gerald O'Dell that he had stolen the money.

UC did not press charges and Lingerfelt wasn't arrested.

Now, Marshall is giving him a second chance. And, by all accounts, Lingerfelt is deserving.

This isn't exactly a meaningful job in Marshall's football program, however. In fact, in the past these duties have been handled by graduate assistants.

Lingerfelt is being paid only about $20,000 and the MU Quarterback Club is paying part of his salary.

His duties consist mainly of organizing the office. According to MU athletic officials, Lingerfelt will not be telephoning prospects and, in fact, will have no contact with prospective recruits.

But that isn't the point.

This is.

Marshall's football program doesn't need any additional controversy.

After four consecutive losing seasons. ...

After head coach Mark Snyder was retained when many fans thought a change should happen. ...

After five arrests of Herd players during a two-month period in the spring. ...

After the arrest of Marshall's top recruit, quarterback A.J. Graham, for felony armed robbery and Snyder rescinding Graham's scholarship. ...

After all that, the very, very last thing the embattled Marshall football program needed was more controversy.

But the hiring of Lingerfelt creates just that.

If this were a different time and place that wouldn't be the situation.

If Marshall had posted a 7-5 record last season, if there hadn't been six arrests and if Snyder's job weren't on the line this season, the hiring of Lingerfelt barely would be a blip on the radar screen.

But that's not the case.

Under the circumstances, hiring Lingerfelt reminds me of the reverse Marshall ran on its first offensive play against UAB last football season.

It is ill-timed.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 526-2827. E-mail him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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