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Montana coach Bobby Hauck welcomes Marc Mariani to the sideline after a score.

KURT WILSON, Missoulian

During his seven seasons as the coach at the University of Montana, head football coach Bobby Hauck posted an 80-17 record and made the playoffs every year, including three NCAA FCS championship game appearances.

But the off-field actions of the players he recruited and coached — and of Hauck himself — likely left as much of an impression on Missoula as the winning tradition he brought to the gridiron.

UM football players were charged with crimes ranging from throwing beer bottles at people to felony assault. And Hauck was nicknamed "The Bum'' by one national sportswriter for stonewalling student journalists who asked him about assault allegations against two players.

Hauck, currently the special teams coordinator and associate head coach at San Diego State, is the leading candidate for UM’s now vacant head coach position, according to sources. The three-time Big Sky Coach of the Year is in Missoula this week interviewing for the job.

Athletic Director Kent Haslam said Monday that hiring a coach who will support student success off the field as well as on was a top priority to him, adding that he’s looking for someone who lines up with his own core values of helping create good students, positive community members and successful players. 

 “It’s a results-oriented business and winning is the name of the game, but I have no desire to accomplish that at all costs,” Haslam said. 

The final decision on Hauck's possible return will come from Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. According to his office, the Montana Board of Regents does not weigh in on the hiring of coaches, although such hires must be approved by Christian.

When asked what off-field traits he feels a head coach should display, Christian emailed this statement to the Missoulian:

“A successful coach in the Montana University System is the coach who produces success in the classroom and on the field or the floor of athletic competition. The values of strong character, community service and academics have been very important to me and to the Board of Regents in my twelve years in the university system. We expect high-quality citizens and good students in all of our sports at all of our universities,'' Christian wrote.

UM President Sheila Stearns and incoming President Seth Bodnar did not respond to requests for comment.

During Hauck's last stint leading the UM football team, a review of legal documents shows that his players and recruits ran afoul of the law numerous times.

July 2006 — Qwenton Freeman is charged with throwing a beer bottle at Westside Lanes, later pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and receiving a deferred sentence. He would later be charged with throwing a beer bottle at a man outside a bar in downtown Missoula, but was found not guilty after a trial.

June 2007 — Cornerback Jimmy Wilson is charged with shooting and killing a man in Los Angeles. His first trial ended in a hung jury, and he was acquitted at a second trial. Freeman allegedly witnessed the California incident, and is removed from the team in part because he refuses to cooperate with detectives.

September 2007 — Timothy Parks is charged with pointing a gun at a woman’s head and slapping her while he was trying to collect a debt, and later pleads guilty to a misdemeanor for partner assault.

November 2007 Three UM football players face felony charges following a drug-related armed home invasion and robbery near campus. Greg Coleman, Mike Shelton and Jeramy Pate are among five people arrested on charges of robbery, burglary and aggravated kidnapping. Coleman and Shelton are arrested as the team returns home from a road game. Freeman, their former teammate who had been let go from the team earlier in the year after a different arrest, is also wanted in connection with the incident, and is arrested months later.

Coleman is also charged when police find marijuana in his dorm room after the robbery. Before transferring to UM, he had a prior conviction for assaulting a peace officer in Iowa.

Pate eventually pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and receives a six-year deferred sentence. Coleman, Shelton and Freeman plead guilty to a pair of felonies each and are sentenced to 10 years with the Department of Corrections, with five of those years suspended.

At the time of the home invasion, Freeman also has outstanding charges for allegedly slapping a woman outside of a downtown bar, and strangling his girlfriend and striking her in the head. 

May 2008 — Offensive lineman J.D. Quinn is arrested for the second time in less than a year on a charge of driving under the influence.

September 2008 — Three players assault a UM student outside a dormitory building on campus, leaving him with a fractured jaw, concussion and chipped teeth. Andrew Douglass eventually pleads guilty to felony criminal endangerment and receives a two-year deferral of sentence. His football scholarship also is lost.

Cody von Appen receives a three-year deferred sentence with 21 days in jail after pleading no contest to felony criminal endangerment.  In November, Von Appen is arrested for violating terms of his release by allegedly assaulting a second student.

Justin Montelius pleads guilty to a misdemeanor and receives a one-year deferred jail sentence for his role in the incident. 

October 2009 — Hauck refuses to answer questions from reporters at the UM student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, after the paper reports on an alleged assault involving two players.

In the story, the Kaimin reported that players Trumaine Johnson and Andrew Swink assaulted a UM student after a party at a fraternity earlier in the year. The alleged incident was never reported to police. The student said Hauck called him after the incident and said the players would be disciplined.

Johnson and Swink are benched for one game, and when a Kaimin reporter asks Hauck about it, the coach covered up the recorder and refused to answer.

The facts in the story are never disputed, but Hauck chooses to stonewall the student journalists during press conferences throughout the month. National sportswriters at outlets including Sports Illustrated and ESPN pick up the story, criticizing Hauck and calling him “egomaniacal” and “a bully.” An ESPN reporter nicknames him “The Bum.”

August 2010  Jimmy Wilson, who returned to the Griz after his manslaughter acquittal, is charged with biting a woman on the leg in Missoula. He eventually pleads guilty to disorderly conduct and receives a six-month deferred sentence.

September 2010  Hauck recruit Beau Donaldson rapes a female friend  sleeping on his couch. Donaldson eventually pleads guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and is sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 20 of those suspended.

October 2011  Trumaine Johnson, as well as Griz quarterback Gerald Kemp, are arrested with the use of stun guns and charged with misdemeanors after Kemp hits a police officer who was called to investigate a noisy house party. Johnson resists efforts by officers to get him onto the ground. He and Kemp later plead no contest to a misdemeanor and are fined, and also sit out for one quarter of a football game. Kemp is dismissed from the team in July 2012 for "violation of team rules."

February 2013 — Former U.S. Rep. and then-Board of Regents member Pat Williams, in an interview with the New York Times about the rape trial of Griz quarterback Jordan Johnson (which ended in acquittal), decries a history of “sex assaults, vandalism, beatings by football players,” adding “The university has recruited thugs for its football team, and this thuggery has got to stop.” Those comments are cited when the Montana Senate refuses to confirm Williams.

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