Wilson denies allegations of player mistreatment

Speaking publicly for the first time since his abrupt December departure as Indiana’s coach, Kevin Wilson pushed back Thursday against allegations of player mistreatment during his time in Bloomington.

Wilson, now the offensive coordinator at Ohio State, said there was no truth to reports suggesting he forced injured players to practice and play in games while leading IU’s program.

“We wouldn’t be here doing this job if those things were true,” Wilson told reporters in Columbus. “Anyone can have an opinion. I know the department over here looked into everything. I know this school has looked into everything. I know we’re very, very comfortable with what we’re doing, where we’re at and we’re excited to move forward.”

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass cited “philosophical differences” in announcing Wilson’s resignation on Dec. 1. In the ensuing days, a few former players came forward with stories of alleged mistreatment from Wilson across his six years as the Hoosiers’ coach.

In one case, former Indiana defensive lineman Nick Carovillano and his father, Dean, complained to the Indiana athletic department that Wilson and members of IU’s medical staff did not handle a back injury suffered by Carovillano with proper care.

A May 2015 investigation conducted by Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP found that Carovillano did not receive inadequate medical care and the coaching staff not exert improper influence over the training staff. However, the investigation did conclude that members of IU’s coaching staff behaved in ways that contributed to an unsatisfactory environment for players.

A formal reprimand from Glass was placed in Wilson’s personnel file.

During Wilson’s tenure, Indiana’s training staff saw unusual staff turnover. Wilson went through four head athletic trainers in six seasons — uncommon movement for a position that often sees individuals remain in place for years, including through coaching changes.

Wilson on Thursday praised the work done by IU’s training staff, past and present.

“I think a couple of those trainers were the best I’d ever been around. Outstanding,” Wilson said Thursday. “(Former IU athletic trainer) Patrick Spieldenner is off the charts, just like our guys here. Those guys handled all the decisions. I used to get ridiculed when Tevin Coleman would come out of a game, or Dan Feeney missed a bunch last year. Those guys ran the ship. They did a great job.”

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told cleveland.com in January that he and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer thoroughly vetted Wilson before hiring him. When a reporter pressed Wilson on Thursday regarding the 2015 investigation that determined the coaching behavior toward some players was unsatisfactory, an Ohio State sports information director interjected, “Kevin’s a Buckeye, folks. Kevin’s a Buckeye.”

Wilson continued.

“That’s the athletic director. He made that call,” Wilson said. “We appreciate that. We appreciate the opportunity he gave us to coach there. We appreciate the opportunity to coach those kids. I’m very grateful for those kids and what they gave our family. I’m appreciative of all their comments moving forward, and at the same time, we’re excited to be here coaching these cats.”

Wilson spoke fondly of his time in Bloomington, where he compiled a 26-47 record and helped IU to back-to-back bowl trips in 2015 and 2016. Tom Allen, Wilson’s replacement, coached the Hoosiers in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl loss to Utah.

“We just go back to how much we loved being there, how much we loved our players,” Wilson said. Didn’t have a chance to kind of see those guys off. Did a great job, I think, recruiting and developing those guys. We were a team that battled and played and had a lot of success. Had a great deal of academic success. Had a great deal of off-the-field success.

“I got a message from a kid the other night who was going through a situation. Just said, ‘Hey man, I appreciated everything you did. You made me tough as nails. I love you.’ At the same time, you move on. You wish those guys well, because they’re your guys. It was a great time. It was great for our family, but now we’re here.”

13 comments

  1. I was unaware of the turnover of the training staff. As the article pointed out, that’s one of the few staff positions that is usually pretty stable.

  2. Coach Wilson helped improve IU so we can play the top teams tough and have them worried about beating the Hoosiers. However, coach also came across as aggressive [to the point of being abusive? to some] and arrogant from his first year at IU. His behavior to the dorm RA and his approach at alumni dinners often didn’t go well. I also have to wonder if 6-6 was the top level he could reach with his approach.

    If I were OSU I would be more concerned IU’s, under Wilson, poor third/fourth down production and their troubles in the red zone. I wish coach Wilson the best and thank him for the improvement he brought to IU but I am very glad coach Allen is now the IU coach.

  3. V13, obviously Urban Meyer has forgotten more about football than I will ever know but, while he has a great resume, it’s hard to have watched the IU offense up close and personal and think that is a good direction to take.

    I have a feeling that if OSU failed on 4 straight 4th downs there would be a ‘come to Jesus’ moment in Meyer’s office.

    I don’t know what, if anything, the extraordinary turnover in athletic trainers means.

  4. The difference is on fourth down OSU will probably score a touchdown or first down. Talent level.

  5. It’s a risk-averse PC world, and IU’s AD is hyper-risk-averse lawyer. If you look sideways at a young man these days, you’re at risk of getting a letter of reprimand placed into your HR file. Wilson is a no-nonsense coach who was trying to instill toughness and discipline into the young men in his program. And he may have been trying to run a few “weak sisters” out of the program. That is unpleasant, but it’s been going on since they introduced leather helmets.

    As for his future, while he improved IU football significantly (the bar was not set very high when he arrived in Bloomington), I doubt Wilson will ever be a head coach again. There’s a reason he kept getting passed over for head coaching jobs until he was 50. But really, who cares? He’s in the review mirror now, and I think Allen is going to be a better head coach for IU anyway.

  6. you all are correct Kevin Wilson is in the rear mirror. but what makes you think that Tom Allen is a better coach?? maybe a better personality? maybe coach Allen is not as aggressive and arrogant as Kevin Wilson? but it remains to be seem if he knows as much about football as Kevin Wilson. at this point he is playing with Kevin Wilson players…..he has 9 starters returning on defense and 5 starters returning on offensive. they have a group of (experience) players, which we the fans are putting high expectation. I cannot wait to see how the IU fan makes comparison between Coach Allen tenure and Coach Wilson tenure in about two – three years. The only positive that we can truly say at this moment is that Kevin Wilson brought a tough competitive nature to the IU football program something that had been missing from this program for years. At this time a 6 – 6 record in the BIG TEN east was a respectable record for IU football. as a true IU fan I am looking forward to the 2017 football season with high expectation.

  7. Had Coach Allen been hired from outside you could claim he is playing with Wilson’s players. The fact is, those nine starters on defense were under the tutelage Coach Allen.

    Give credit where credit is due. If those 5 starters on offense can get it together next season then lob some kudos in Coach Wilson’s direction. The only phase of the game IU was any good at last year was the defense. CKW had little to do with that.

    1. I have no bone to pick with CKW, either. He significantly improved IU football. It’s just silly to claim he deserves the credit for the defense instead of Coach Allen.

  8. IU79, we think coach Allen will be a better coach because of his track record of recruiting and on defensive improvement. The next couple of years will tell if Allen is better than Wilson but coaches Allen has worked for say he will be a great head coach. Players love playing for him and coaches that have worked with him say he is a very good coach. He is a hard working coach and a very good evaluator of talent.

    Only time will tell how good a job coach Allen does at IU, so far he is doing a very good job at IU. He has a good track record, is personable and gets along with coaches/HS &College/staff, he improves how well players play, and players love to play for him. Is that enough to be better than Coach Wilson only time will tell.

  9. As far as Wilson’s remarks in the article above, I would not have expected anything less. He is complimentary to IU, is comfortable being the same man who arrived and left Bloomington, enjoyed his stay while he was there and proud of his IU tenure.
    Without aggressiveness, arrogance and his tough eyeball to eyeball attitude Coach Wilson would have been in charge of the near never ending result of IUFB being the ‘pussies’ of the B1G, East ot West. Wilson single handedly changed IUFB’s soft, 2nd thought, low expectation culture. Ton Allen, as much as I like him is in a fortunate position to reap the benefits of not having that heavy lifting to do. Focusing on the tasks of recruiting and X’s and O’s w/o all the historic peripheral IUFB BS is an honest blessing handed off to Coach Allen. W/o Wilson’s offense in 2015, no 6-6 season, w/o Allen”s D(with the help of Hagen running the DL, whom Wilson hired) in 2016, no 6-6 season, I call that a push in some respect; with the exception Wilson’s offense in 2016 was w/o many more starters from ’15’ than Allen suffered. I do expect Allen to make the best of any advantage he inherits from Wilson running interference before him(kinda like the older brother does in a family).
    t’s astute remark about OSU’s talent and Wilson in charge of the O certainly highlights he most likely will surpass anything he engineered in Norman.
    Po, Wilson turned down opportunities to interview for HC jobs before Glass came calling. He stated he would not accept anything but a good fit. I took that to mean he and his wife were not comfortable raising their 5 kids in towns/states that did not suit them. That is high praise for Bloomington and the state of Indiana. If he was passed over for HC positions prior to IU please name a couple. I’m afraid you’ll be scratching your head for a long time.

  10. v13, All those positives have been said and are said about Coach Wilson. I am holding judgement on Coach Allen’s staff hires(who I’m not negative on)till I see some results.

  11. A lot of you are right here. IUFB was not a lot better W-L wise the first couple of KW years, but right away you could see that the players were (and stayed) much more tough-spirited (i.e., “never give up the ship” attitude) than under Lynch. Which speaks to Po’s comment about a different world. Watching my son’s JV basketball team this winter (my boy shot 50% from the field this season, by the way- he made one and missed the other) I could only shake my head when some ball-hog would drive the lane, throw up garbage, and then get a high-five from the coach the next time out. I never saw a kid get chewed out or benched for a bone-headed play.

    Allen certainly achieved a lot in his first year, but those were KW recruits under his tutelage. All in all, KW left the program in much better shape than he got it, but I’m optimistic about Allen. The offensive asst. coaches are of course a new bunch and it’s going to take time to get on the same page, but these new guys seem to have better-than-decent credentials, which has certainly not been the norm for IUFB.

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