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.”