Former Bull Johnson believes he was unfairly removed from football team
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 18:09
Rudy Johnson says football head coach Jeff Quinn has wronged him.
This summer, Johnson, a wide receiver, lost his scholarship and was kicked off the team. He says his primary offense was missing voluntary summer workouts to work two internships near his home in Baltimore, Md. The written documentation for his dismissal says he was “untruthful about summer plans” and missed one meeting.
“Of all the things that Coach Quinn preaches, just wanting to see his athletes develop in every aspect of life – he says, ‘socially, spiritually, athletically and intellectually’ – the fact that I chose to do something to develop myself, and he made it a point to take my scholarship away, sends a very bad message, in my mind,” Johnson said.
The meeting came April 22, two days after UB’s Blue-White spring game. Johnson found out about it one week in advance, after he had his travel arrangements booked to go home with his father, who was visiting Buffalo. When Johnson told Quinn that he could not attend, Quinn said, “I’m not going to tell you that you need to be at the meeting, but you know the right decision,” according to Johnson.
Johnson, however, said no one told him the meeting was mandatory and his absence was never an issue until he called Quinn after Memorial Day weekend, when he had met with his parents to discuss his options, and explained that he had accepted two summer internship offers. He said he wrote down Quinn’s response: “If you don’t come back for summer conditioning, your scholarship will not be renewed.”
The NCAA Division I Manual states there is an eight-week summer period in which “student-athletes may be involved in voluntary weight training and conditioning activities,” according to point 126.96.36.199.1.
UB’s Student-Athlete Handbook states, “All summer activities are voluntary,” and, “The student-athlete may not be subjected to penalty if he or she elects not to participate in the activity.”
The athletic department said there is more to the story but it cannot divulge all the information because of privacy laws. UB Athletics issued this statement to The Spectrum: “We can confirm Rudy Johnson’s football scholarship has not been renewed. Our coaching staff and administration have followed the University judicial protocol that is in place for the well-being of all University at Buffalo students as well as the rules set forth by the NCAA. Rudy is still a valued member of the student body here at UB and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Asked about Johnson at an August football practice, Quinn said: “We just talk about our guys that are out here at this point. We wish everybody the best in their careers, so there’s no discussion about it. We’ve made it clear that he’s not on our roster and we certainly wish him the best. We’re focused on the guys that we’ve got here.”
Johnson made the Dean’s List in the spring and was honorable mention MAC All-Academic Team in the fall. He is seeking his degree in communication with a concentration in marketing. He completed one internship in marketing and the other in advertising.
Rudy Johnson Jr., his father (Johnson is the third Rudy Johnson in his family), said he believes Quinn can make whatever decision he wants about who plays on the field, but removing his son’s scholarship was an oversight on the part of UB Athletics.
“For Rudy to have his scholarship not renewed because he chose to take a summer internship, as it states in the rules, it’s just unfair and unjust,” Rudy Jr. said. “Last year, they had a player physically assault another player on the team. They’ve had players fail drug tests. They’ve had academic issues. They’ve had legal issues. And with all those things, those players are still on that team. That’s where the unfairness comes into being.”
Quinn told the NCAA judiciary committee, which held the phone-conference hearing to determine Johnson’s scholarship eligibility, that Johnson consistently disrespected his teammates and coaches.
Two teammates spoke to The Spectrum on the condition of anonymity and refuted Quinn’s claim.
“No, he was never disrespectful,” one said. “He never said anything disrespectful. He was a coachable guy. Rudy was a personable guy. He hung out with everybody, got along with both sides of the ball. He was a guy you could count on, depend on.”
The other athlete echoed those sentiments.
“Hell no, not once,” he said when asked if Johnson was disrespectful to anyone on the team.
The first athlete explained how Johnson could be accused of being “untruthful about summer plans.”
Here is his account: During the spring, the football team had all the players write down their summer addresses. Johnson wanted to write down his home address because he knew there was a good chance he would take the internships, but the coaches “forced him to write down his summer address here, even though Rudy was saying he might not be here.” Then “Coach Quinn used that against him.”
“I haven’t heard of anybody getting kicked off the team almost for anything,” Johnson said. “There have been kids who have failed drug tests, been ineligible and things, fights within the team, kids getting arrested – Coach Quinn has worked personally and directly with those kids to keep them on the team.”