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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Let's Not Hastily Draw Conclusions

The University of Mary Washington’s men’s basketball coach Rod Wood will be returning to work Friday, Feb. 24 at noon after being placed on administrative leave last week.
Wood was arrested on Wednesday, Feb. 15 for reckless driving and was charged with a DUI. Wood had been pulled over for speeding on Route 1 last Wednesday evening after the Eagles’ senior night victory over Stevenson University. Wood was released the following day and his case will go before a judge in mid-March. In the meantime, at a meeting with UMW Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Searcy and Athletic Director Ed Hegmann, Wood said it was decided that he would return to coaching.

Wood’s charges and their relation to his position as the men’s basketball coach at UMW are made all the more intriguing by the lack of precedent for Mary Washington faculty receiving DUI charges.

“We don’t have any precedent at all,” Hegmann said in an interview with the Free Lance-Star.

Comparisons will undoubtedly be made to former UMW President William Frawley, who was charged with a DUI and fired in 2007 after flipping a school-owned car in Fairfax County with his blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

Those comparisons to Frawley are easy to make because he’s the last UMW official to be arrested on a DUI charge. The circumstances around Frawley’s are extremely different and we should acknowledge that and not draw comparisons. 

It’s important to remember, that we do not have all the facts regarding Wood’s charges yet. Yes, Wood was charged with a DUI, but through a formality that warrants further investigation.

That isn’t to say that Wood should be let off the hook either, however. Drunk driving is a serious offense and one with particular resonance on a college campus, where many students will have their first experiences with alcohol consumption. It’s imperative that the University fosters a community that values and insists upon responsible alcohol consumption, a hard message to tote if members of your faculty are proven guilty of driving under the influence.

But Wood has not been proven guilty yet and until an official legal verdict is reached, members of the Mary Washington community must refrain from snap judgments or comparisons to former Mary Washington faculty members. Any number of extenuating circumstances could have played into Wood’s arrest and until all the facts are known, it isn’t fair to point fingers and cast aspersions.

“Everybody makes mistakes. Hopefully, you learn from your mistakes,” Hegmann said in a phone interview with the Bullet last Saturday.

The Mary Washington community should take Hegmann’s words to heart and reserve judgments of Wood until the full extent and nature of his mistake is known.

Wood’s administrative leave will keep him from the Eagle’s Capital Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals game against Hood College on Thursday.

On the advice of his council, Woods has refused to comment on any of the particulars surrounding his DUI charge. He did, however, take about the support he received.

Wood said, “People who know me have been very supportive. The University has been very supportive. When things are going well, you don’t see things in the light they may actually be in. But when put under duress, you find out who your real support system is.”


  1. Bob

    So was he driving drunk through town or not? Will sports Eddie H be advocating for students who get DUI s? Did someone force him to endanger others lives ?

    Enlighten me.

  2. Anne Elder

    Hi Bob,
    Due to the extent of our knowledge at the time in which the articles were written, we wanted to draw attention to the fact that Coach Wood’s case shouldn’t be compared to others UMW has experienced in the past. We’ll see what further evidence comes as the story progresses, and will of course cover it with diligence and neutrality.

  3. Hear hear!

  4. Bob

    Again, I hope students who make a mistake “early” in life get the same type of support and leeway from all involved. He is 30 years out of college, he should know better. Or maybe it does not matter – he is right back at work, probably driving too…

    this sends the wrong message.

    hear hear

  5. John Jay

    Yeah this is just absolutely ridiculous, he sat out the semifinal game and then coached the championship game? He should at least been suspended until his case was finished. Yet we saw him on the sidelines at the championship game acting a fool, just like every other game. Just a complete disgrace, makes the school look very bad. As Bob said, this sets a great example for students, if it was a player I bet he/she would of been kicked off of the team and for a fact would not have been able to play in the championship game. What great examples we are setting for our wonderful students at the university.

  6. Bob

    THank you John. I check this from time to time and I normally agree with Fleur but way off on this. If he hit someone while drunk would that have caused him to really be suspended? There is no real punishment here.

  7. All I said was “hear hear” 🙁
    I only agreed that the students do not have the extent of knowledge needed to pass judgement. You can assume, but you should know my stance on assumptions. I won’t make a call on a case without having all evidence present and knowing what exactly happened. That’s all I’m saying “hear hear” to.