UTC's Chris Early suspended for anti-coach tweets

UTC's Chris Early suspended for anti-coach tweets

December 17th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sportscollege

UTC coach John Shulman, right, talks to Chris Early during the game against Warren Wilson Monday at McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Chris Early's Twitter Account in November


• "I need a vacation! I need to get away from everything that is related to UTC."

• "My coach throws a temper tantrum at least 3 times a week."

• "I hate this man with a passion, each and every day I have to see him I become more and more miserable."

• "There are certain [people] that shouldn't be able to coach college basketball."

• "we play for the worst coach in america (high school [a]nd middle school) included!"

• "I would run through hell in gasoline draws than to play for this man another year."

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior forward Chris Early vented his frustrations about playing for coach John Shulman last month on Twitter.

Those emotions remained in a private circle until Friday.

The posts appeared on a Kentucky radio blog, and it was clear that Early had violated UTC's social media policy.

He has been suspended indefinitely by Shulman.

The Mocs learned of the heated posts Friday afternoon on their way to Lexington, Ky., where they play third-ranked Kentucky tonight. Shulman sent Early home to Huntington, W.Va., on Friday evening.

"Chris made a big mistake," Shulman said over the phone. "He said, 'I acted emotionally.' He broke a rule. He has to pay the consequences.

"He's really disappointed and upset by his actions, and so are we."

The Kentucky blog posted nine tweets dated Nov. 16-21 from Early's Twitter account, which is private to all but his followers.

On Nov. 21, Early tweeted, "I would [rather] run through hell in gasoline draws than to play for this man another year."

On Nov. 20 he wrote, "I hate this man with a passion, each and every day I have to see him I become more and more miserable."

Those are clear violations of the UTC policy that reads: "Inappropriate comments or criticism of any fellow student-athletes, coaches or athletics department staff and inappropriate pictures or other content will be subject to discipline and could lead to dismissal from the team."

Early will miss the game at Kentucky and Wednesday's noon contest against Hiwassee.

"This was during a time when Chris was having a tough time," Shulman said. "We put him at the end of the bench."

Early did not start against Warren Wilson on Nov. 21 or on Nov. 25 against Savannah State. He returned to the lineup on Nov. 27 against Gardner-Webb and has averaged eight points and 7.4 rebounds per game since then, and he scored 18 points at College of Charleston.

"He acted emotionally and that's OK," Shulman said. "What's not OK is that you can't put it in writing. Many times players say things to teammates. He went outside the team and he made a mistake.

"With mistakes come consequences."

Shulman said he's never had to discipline a player for violating social media policy. Elon dismissed senior running back Jamal Shuman on Nov. 1 after his Twitter rant about lack of playing time following a loss to Wofford.

"When we started coaching, there was no Twitter," Shulman said. "All that Twitter does, and tweeting does, is get people in trouble. You act emotionally and put it in print.

"Once you hit 'Send' you've got problems."

Shulman was not ready to give long-term answers about Early.

"I don't know long 'indefinitely' will be," the coach said. "Over the break I'll think about what to do with Chris. He's an emotional guy and I'm an emotional guy, but I'm not going to act emotionally about this."