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Missouri Coach Earns the Big Man on Campus Award

The Hartford Courant

It’s a little early to be passing out postseason awards, but this one won’t wait.

Missouri Coach Norm Stewart has locked up the Big Man On Campus Award. Everyone would agree it takes a truly Big Man to do what Stewart is accused of doing after his weekly news conference Jan. 4.

Jim Thomas, the Missouri beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said Stewart took him aside to discuss recent Post-Dispatch articles that Stewart felt were hurting him. Thomas told the Columbia Missourian that Stewart was calm at first, but then became agitated. Thomas said Stewart got up from his seat, pointed at him and said, “I know some people who can take care of your 1-year-old.”

Stewart was referring to Thomas’ infant son, whom Stewart had seen earlier in the day.

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Stewart denied making any threatening remarks to Thomas and told the Missourian he only asked Thomas, “why he wanted to hurt me.”

In December the Post-Dispatch published a series of stories in which several Detroit-area coaches questioned the recruiting tactics of Missouri assistant coach Rich Daly. Missouri recently has recruited seven players from the Detroit area.

David Lipman, managing editor for the Post-Dispatch, has filed a written complaint with Missouri Chancellor Haskell Monroe. Bob Pastin, the Post-Dispatch’s executive sports editor, said Friday Missouri Athletic Director Dick Tamburo promised Jan. 19 that he would try to get Stewart together with Thomas to “hash things out.” As of Friday, that meeting hadn’t taken place.

“We’re trying to get a resolution,” Pastin said. “I doubt if Norm will ever apologize. That would be like indicting himself.”

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Stewart is the winningest coach in Big Eight Conference history. Earlier this season, he picked up his 500th career victory. But, much like Indiana Coach Bob Knight, Stewart’s winning record has led to an unrealistic sense of power on the Missouri campus. Stormin’ Norman is notorious for this type of behavior, but is never challenged.

Stewart hasn’t received national attention for his antics the way Knight has. Perhaps because Stewart’s teams rarely make it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament, so he hasn’t been in the national eye.

This isn’t the first time Stewart has gone after a writer after what he felt was “negative” reporting. It is the first known case of Stewart threatening a baby. That’s pretty sad.

Despite Stewart’s denial, no one at Missouri has stepped forward and said, “I can’t believe Norm would have said that.” That may be the most telling indictment of all.

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Those 10 players who walked off the San Jose State team to protest the coaching methods of Billy Berry have hired San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli to represent them. Belli is charging the players $200 each. Belli said Berry is “a regular Hitler.”


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