When word of a restraining order being served against Ron Abegglen hit the streets of Ogden Tuesday, it seemed as though everyone associated with the Weber State basketball program collectively said, "Uh, oh."
Not just because a tragedy had occurred in the Abegglen's family but because it also cast yet another shadow on a program struggling to overcome lingering memories of NCAA sanctions. But after Nedra Abegglen suffered a broken wrist during an altercation at the Weber State basketball offices two weeks ago, she chose to protect herself from further incidents.Weber State officials, seeking to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, placed Ron Abegglen on paid administrative leave while the issue is investigated.
WSU President Paul Thompson made the decision to place Abegglen on leave and said he hopes the matter is resolved soon.
"We have to keep in mind that these are just allegations," Thompson said Wednesday. "We have to be fair to the university, and we have to be fair to our employees. We haven't even had the opportunity to hold a hearing. We want to make sure we have enough time to gather information, review the facts and do it objectively."
As if the circumstances surrounding the allegations weren't damaging enough, Abegglen may have incriminated himself in an Ogden Standard-Examiner article which broke the story.
"It was a push and an accident," Abegglen was quoted as saying. "She fell and hit her wrist." In that article, Abegglen claimed he had not been physically abusive despite a pair of incidents described by Nedra Abegglen, in which she alleges throwing of furniture and throwing her down steps. "I think she's hurting. I don't know why she did that . . . I've never doubled up a fist," he said.
Such statements won't be as common now, though, as Abegglen has retained legal counsel and is not commenting on the incident.
Thompson acknowledged the recent developments may be enough to ask Abegglen to step down from the position he has held for seven years.
"We are concerned about the image of the university," Thompson said, even though no criminal or civil charges had been made. "However, it's premature to speculate on possible outcomes of the investigation."
Thompson said Abegglen's high-profile position at Weber State dictates the situation be dealt with differently than if it were a lesser-known university employee. "We have to look at it more carefully," he said.
The Wildcat basketball program has never had a losing season under Abegglen's direction. WSU finished 14-13 last year as the Wildcats coped with sanctions placed on the basketball program as a result of recruiting violations. He has compiled 127 wins during his Weber State tenure and has never had a losing season in 37 years as a coach.
Should Abegglen lose his job as a result of the July 3 altercation with his wife, the Wildcats will be forced to find a replacement on short notice. They may not have to look far, however.
Joe Cravens, a former University of Utah assistant and Idaho head coach, is currently an assistant coach at Weber State and is familiar with the program and players.