TCU's Assistant AD Resigns after Mocking Texas A&M Bonfire Tragedy

Categories: Sports

GregFeatherston.jpeg
In sports, as in life, it's best to avoid unforced errors. Don't fumble the snap. Don't foul the three-point shooter. Don't walk in the winning run. And for the love of God don't, 15 years after the fact, piss on the graves of a dozen college kids who died in an unbearably tragic accident.

Had Greg Featherston been thinking in sports metaphor last week, he'd probably still have a job. As it was, TCU's assistant athletic director of compliance apparently didn't realize the utter stupidity of mocking the 1999 Texas A&M bonfire tragedy on Facebook until it was too late.

The post went up on Wednesday. It linked to an article about A&M's plans to leave 12 seats empty at Kyle Field to honor the fallen students and reads, in full:

A&M to leave 12 seats empty to honor the 12 students who died in bonfire collapse. I didn't write the response below ... but I could have:

That makes good aggy sense. If the number of students that were victims of what amounted to drunken, negligent homicide on the part of that cow college didn't match so perfectly with the cult's favorite number, I doubt you would have seen anything like this done. Same thing with their campus "memorial". This allows the aggy admin to continue martyring them in an effort to cover their part in those people all being crushed to death by a big pile of logs that should have been either (a) never built or (b) built by professionals. See, this way it's a passive tragedy that "happened" rather than an active atrocity that was committed. This fits into the real aggy honor code of lying, cheating and stealing.

By Friday, the post was splashed all across the Internet, prompting Featherston, a 38-year-old UT grad, to issue an apology for his "lapse in judgment."

But the outrage machine was at full churn by then and wasn't going to be stopped by a mea culpa. On Saturday, Featherston felt compelled to resign.

TCU didn't try very hard to convince him to stay. "We have accepted Greg's resignation and wish him the best." TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said on Saturday.

Here's hoping Featherston hasn't ruined Aggie jokes for everyone.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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61 comments
ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

He'll be working in a gas station the rest of his life after this press.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  

AtoZ
AtoZ

So I just read it, and it's abundantly clear that he didn't say anything at all against anyone who died.  Let alone "piss on their graves."  Either Nicholson didn't read it, or he misread it.

Featherston linked to someone else's comment to the effect that A&M, through dramatic memorial demonstration, was deflecting attention away from whatever role it may have allegedly played in those deaths.  Not sure if that's true or not, but surely its a legitimate speculative opinion to hold.  Let alone to link to.  He's not saying aliens form outer space and Bigfoot caused the collapse.  If anything, it's an opinion being stated on behalf of those who died, and against the school.  He last his job over this?  Not right.

mlc68
mlc68

He actually just 'shared a link'. He didn't write anything. It was in poor taste, and admittedly a lapse in judgement but seems kind of harsh to lose a job over.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

I don't see a thing wrong with what he wrote.  He was absolutely spot-on.

okhobieman2002
okhobieman2002

The tradition of the Twelfth Man was born on the second of January 1922, when an underdog Aggie team was playing Centre College, then the nation's top ranked team. As the hard fought game wore on, and the Aggies dug deeply into their limited reserves, Coach Dana X. Bible remembered a squad man who was not in uniform. He had been up in the press box helping reporters identify players. His name was E. King Gill, and was a former football player who was only playing basketball. Gill was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the game, which A&M finally won 22-14. When the game ended, E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said, "I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me."

This gesture was more than enough for the Aggie Team. Although Gill did not play in the game, he had accepted the call to help his team. He came to be thought of as the Twelfth Man because he stood ready for duty in the event that the eleven men on the gridiron needed assistance. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. The entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The 12th Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if they are needed.

This tradition took on a new look in the 1980's when Coach Jackie Sherrill started the 12th Man Kick-Off Team composed of regular students through open tryouts. This 12th Man team performed very well and held opponents to one of the lowest yards per return averages in the league. Later, Head Coach R.C. Slocum changed the team to allow only one representative of the 12th Man on the kick off team. The 12th Man tradition also took musical form. The 12th Man sings this song after each game in which the Aggies are outscored.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

It's a shame.

The pretty ones are never very bright, are they?

roo_ster
roo_ster

"As it was, TCU's assistant athletic director of compliance apparently didn't realize the utter stupidity of mocking the 1999 Texas A&M bonfire tragedy on Facebook until it was too late."

WTH is an "assistant athletic director of compliance?"  Is he some sort of duh-versity dipshit stasi thug?

[googles a bit]

Ah, he is an NCAA rules stasi thug.  Well, that make it all better.  One thing though:  If you need such a critter and office:

1. Rules have grown beyond bounds of reasonableness.  

2. Like "Ethics Committees," if you need one, you are already too far gone.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

Posting that was a pretty Aggie-esque move on his part.

dingo
dingo

A&M already has their Stonehenge looking bonfire memorial.


What is going to happen if someone miseads their tickets and sits in those seats?


Is a cadet going to draw his sword like the one that chased the SMU cheerleader off of Kyle Field?

jmckee3
jmckee3

It's no less shameful than A&M reminding people that they killed 12 of their students in a giant pile of logs that they were going to set on fire.

fredgarvinmp713
fredgarvinmp713

The language may have been too colorful, but can anyone honestly disagree with the sentiment?

Derka
Derka

But his statement was correct. Poor aggy.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@ROFLCopter

This is Texas.  As such, there is no shortage of other right-wing Christian organizations that will find his heckling behavior acceptable.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

No-one works at gas stations, they work at convenience stores until they get shot.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@AtoZ  

There is a basic rule in Texas life:  Non-Aggies cannot criticize A&M, period.


I have come to the conclusion that A&M is something that an insider cannot explain and an outsider cannot understand.


This having been said, as I watched the events unfold after the collapse, I came to the conclusion that A&M was not only distancing itself as fast as it could from the results, but was also building a defense that it had no liability in the matter; and, not only did it not have any liability but that it had sovereign immunity.


I went to a school that had a decades long homecoming tradition.  This tradition had the potential for major disaster.  Before we could participate, we had to make a presentation to the faculty oversight committee and submit to regular inspections during the project.  I fail to see where A&M exercised even basic oversight for this project.


OK, body armor, flame suit and IronMan III suit on.  I am ready for the comments.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mlc68

It's doesn't matter that you think his behavior was acceptable.  What matters is that his employers did not.

Beyond that - he didn't just share a link; he shared the whole message.  So the way you defended his disgusting behavior doesn't really apply.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@roo_sterWTH is an "assistant athletic director of compliance?"  Is he some sort of duh-versity dipshit stasi thug?

The place of employment for Someones Brother in law who needed a JOB ?

Guesty
Guesty

@roo_ster  If you have rules, you will have rule breakers.  If you have rule breakers, you either have rule enforcers or you have no rules at all.  


So while I might be inclined to agree that the NCAA rules have become too complex, I don't agree that the existence of people who are there to enforced them proves anything.  And the rules wouldn't be so damn complex if schools were not so good at working around them.  

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@fredgarvinmp713 Nope--the sentiment was right on.  The collapse was the culmination of an institutionalized negligence on the part of the Texas A&M administration that would be unthinkable at any other university (or really, any other organization of any sort).  Can anybody imagine any other university allowing a bunch of college students to work 24 hours a day on the construction of a six-story tower without any blueprints or professional engineering supervision?  Can anybody imagine any other university allowing college students to operate heavy machinery on a campus construction project after the students consumed copious amounts of alcohol?  Would this happen at Ohio State?  Or Cal-Berkeley?  Or North Carolina?


No--this could have only happened at Texas A&M.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@Derka  

You're an ignorant asshole. Why don't you go mock the parents of the students who died in that accident. 

James080
James080 topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @AtoZ  

Former Paul said:

There is a basic rule in Texas life:  Non-Aggies cannot criticize A&M, period.

Not true, constructive criticism is usually welcome, but "[t]his fits into the real aggy honor code of lying, cheating and stealing" and " aggy admin to continue martyring them" and calling A&M a "cow college" are not criticisms, they're ignorant statements and "name calling" by an A&M hater demeaning Aggies and the University, including those Aggies who died and were injured working on the stack.


I have come to the conclusion that A&M is something that an insider cannot explain and an outsider cannot understand.

That is a frequent explanation offered by A&M to people who don't get A&M.


This having been said, as I watched the events unfold after the collapse, I came to the conclusion that A&M was not only distancing itself as fast as it could from the results, but was also building a defense that it had no liability in the matter; and, not only did it not have any liability but that it had sovereign immunity.

A&M did what every other governmental entity does when they face potential liability, they hide behind sovereign immunity. Nonetheless, A&M and their insurers settled most of the lawsuits. Sovereign immunity is a bitch, it's a part of the statutory and common law I believe should be reversed.


I went to a school that had a decades long homecoming tradition.  This tradition had the potential for major disaster.  Before we could participate, we had to make a presentation to the faculty oversight committee and submit to regular inspections during the project.  I fail to see where A&M exercised even basic oversight for this project.

There is little doubt that a tradition that began over 100 years ago, building a bonfire, at some point grew into something that should have attracted closer oversight by the university. Sometimes "that's the way it's always been done" no longer applies, and yes, the A&M administration failed in this instance.


OK, body armor, flame suit and IronMan III suit on.  I am ready for the comments.

Your post was accurate and thoughtful, lacking pejoratives demeaning one of the top public universities in the country. Why would you get flamed for that?

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

A feature, not a bug.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @roo_ster 

Destroy the NCAA, first off.  Coaches get paid.  Schools get paid.  Teevee networks get paid.  NCAA bureaucritters get paid.  Pro leagues get prospects developed for free.  Everybody gets paid, except the players.

Make the NFL and NBA develop minor league systems akin to baseball to develop their prospects out of high school.


Do this by treating extracurricular athletics as a *privilege*.  Nobody plays on any team if they get an SAT/ACT less than the mean or median for the school.  Nobody plays if they are not on track to complete 24 credit hours minimum per year.  Nobody plays if they can not maintain a 2.5GPA.  Nobody plays after sophomore year if they have not yet declared a major.


This ought to destroy the big ball team pro feeder operations, football & basketball.  More than 3/4 of the players would be ineligible due to the SAT/ACT requirement.  Because so many of them are dumb as a box of hammers.  Making them go to college makes as much sense as making a horse go to a steakhouse.


The resulting university teams would be on par with or slightly better than the Ivies and military academy teams.  Maybe less so, since some portion of the the 1/4 of players who are smart enough actually play college sports would join the new NBA/NFL minor leagues.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Check out how the 'boys are thumbing their nose at the NFL.

fredgarvinmp713
fredgarvinmp713

I had some time this morning to read the wiki entry on Aggie Bonfire. Good 12th God, read the part under "controversy." Not only had others died or been seriously before the big collapse, but women weren't allowed nearby until the 80's. Even then they had abuse heaped on them.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@James_the_P3  Also a bad reflection on the university:


Three Texas schools remained on The Princeton Review’s list of 20 most gay-unfriendly schools in 2013 — University of Dallas at No. 10, Texas A&M at No. 11 and Baylor University at No. 12.


Sidney R. Gardner, GLBT Resource Center program coordinator at Texas A&M, searched to find something positive about her school’s ranking.

“Last year, we were at No. 7,” she said.


---Dallas Voice

observist
observist

@James080 @DerkaThe statement, while obnoxious, doesn't really say anything bad about the students that were killed, just about the school for letting it happen and avoiding responsibility for it.  He could almost pass for a parent of one of the victims who is genuinely angry at the school for the accident.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @James080@AtoZ 

No, you would not. I am proudly an Aggie, and I accept and defend the university with all its quirks and flaws. And I hold malice toward students of no other university (many Aggies and Long Horns have a rather sophomoric mutual hatred). Except maybe Florida State....that wo, wo, wowowo chant drives me f-ing insane.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@James080 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul@AtoZ 

In my experience, criticism of A&M by non - Aggies is not acceptable.  When I was looking at colleges, I did look at A&M but did not go as the school was not even nationally ranked for my desired  area of study.  Telling an Aggie this factual statement will raise all sorts of ire and statements of how great A&M is.


My school was regularly called things worse than "cow college, and we just laughed.  We came up with some names that were even worse.


Sovereign immunity is something that has spread greatly over the years, to the point where it has been attempted to be used to prevent paying for damages in auto accidents.

A&M wanted the PR of Bonfire, until it went south.

 

The tradition at my school also began over 100 years ago.

I consider the failure of Bonfire that year to be one of the most ironic event of  mankind especially considering the A&M Engineering School's claims of superiority.


Would I be wrong in coming to the conclusion that you are an Aggie?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@James080 @roo_ster @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

NFL farm system?

You know damn well that the affected colleges would NEVER let that happen. Even second and third tier programs are huge cash cows, PR machines and recruitment devices that most likely attract more non-athletes than actual players.

Never gonna' happen. 

James080
James080 topcommenter

@roo_ster @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz 

The concept of the "student athlete" in major college sports is a fraud. There may, possibly, be a hand full of actual student athletes at any given major university (I'm referring to football, basketball, baseball), but the rest of the players are really just prepping for either a pro career, or enjoying a privileged university life prior to dropping out and taking that first job as a city recreation center employee, or taking back to the streets. 


The NFL and major corporation should develop major college football into a minor league system, with corporate sponsorship, paid players, and classes optional so the student athlete charade can end. Really, especially in basketball and baseball with the "one and done" rules, college is merely an audition for the NBA and MLB teams.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@ScottsMerkin @momclone88  I agree with the statements, but the tone was ill-advised. Tone is everything when you're a semi-public figure such as he and you post or re-post on your personal page. His tone was snarky, sarcastic and just a bit spiteful. We are talking about college kids who were killed doing what was a time-honored tradition in Aggieland.

fredgarvinmp713
fredgarvinmp713

The Aggie bonfire was a tradition of men (no women until the 80's) building a large, tall stack of logs. What could be more gay-friendly than that?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Congratulations, Brooklyn!  You broke the racial barrier in pro baseball, now you've broken the sexual orientation barrier in the NBA.  Proud to be from Brooklyn!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

You'd have to check the Princeton Review site to find out about their ranking criteria.

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