Between Scott Linehan and Lane Kiffin, we’ve learned just how rare it is for a coach to get fired during the middle of the season. But before a team plays it’s inaugural game as a program? Ave Maria University men’s basketball coach Ricky Benitez was axed by the school last week, about a month before the team’s first-ever game.
His sin? According to the NAPLES (FL) DAILY NEWS, he was originally fired for excessive swearing. (Someone tell Sam Mitchell, quick.) But the paper is now reporting that two big pieces of his resume - his time playing for the Puerto Rican National Team and his work as an NBA scout - have come into question. What is it about Catholic universities and coaches who allegedly fudge their resumes?
When he was hired, Ave Maria University touted Benitez as having worked as an NBA scot for Marty Blake and Associates in 2007. But Ryan Blake, Marty’s son and the associate director of scouting for the company, said that what Benitez did was essentially unpaid work for a brief period of time two years ago.
And as for the claims of having played for the Puerto Rican National Team? Apparently those are full of hot air as well:
When Benitez was hired, Ave Maria University Athletic Director Brian Scanlan said in an interview Benitez played basketball for the national team in his native Puerto Rico. That information was reported in numerous articles announcing Benitez’s hiring as the Gyrenes’ first coach in April. In an interview Monday night, Benitez said he played for five separate national teams from 1984-1992.
But the Federacion de Baloncesto de Puerto Rico, basketball’s governing body in the country, said that wasn’t the case.
Pablo Delgado, an administrator with the Federacion, said there’s no record of Benitez either playing or coaching with the Puerto Rican National Team.
“That guy is a fraud,” Delgado said.
Perhaps most laughably, Joe Nuss, a recruit of Benitez’s who left the team before he was fired, claims that Benitez told him that he had a double-double against the Dream Team. Perhaps he “ate” a double-double from In-N-Out Burger while watching the Dream Team, but that’s about it.
Amazingly, despite the heat the university took locally and nationally (including this critical article from the SAN ANTONIO NEWS-EXPRESS), Ave Maria officials are claiming that even if he did fudge his resume, that wasn’t the reason he was fired - his swearing was. Apparently lying isn’t as much of a sin as I thought.