The recent arrest and resignation of men’s track and field coach Walter McCoy raises serious questions about the screening and hiring process of Florida A&M University’s employees. Investigation into McCoy’s past shows that his recent arrest was not the only one on his record.
According to Officer Derek Friend with the Tallahassee Police Department, on August 24 McCoy was arrested during a traffic stop. During the stop the officer ran both McCoy’s license plate and his driver’s license. While pulling files on McCoy, the officer discovered that a warrant issued by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office was out for McCoy’s arrest.
“The warrant was issued by the Jefferson County office, and we just picked him up,” Friend said.
The outstanding warrant was for Unemployment Compensation Fraud or illegally receiving money for unemployment, according to a representative from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Both TPD and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were unable to comment on how long McCoy had been receiving the compensation.
McCoy’s arrest and subsequent release on bond on Monday night are what allegedly led to his resignation exactly one week after a press conference announcing his arrival as the head coach.
Regardless of McCoy’s present situation, his past raises questions about his character and whether or not FAMU should employ men and women with prison records.
In 1997, McCoy was arrested and convicted for “failure to pay fees” according to a worker in the Leon County Prison. Specifically, the arrest was for failure to pay child support. McCoy posted a $1,185 bond and was again released.
The prison refused to comment on whether this previous offense was a felony or misdemeanor charge.
Although the only similarity between the two cases is the monetary issue, the fact remains that McCoy has now twice been in trouble with the law on issues that require a certain level of responsibility. FAMU performs thorough background checks on potential teachers to ensure students aren’t exposed to undesirables.
Does the same process apply to coaches?
McCoy’s “track record” notwithstanding, this is not the first time a previous offender has been hired to coach for FAMU, only to repeat his old ways. Former basketball coach Mike Gillespe was investigated on stalking charges, and according to ESPN, told to “stop his behavior” before formally being arrested in May of 2007.
Obviously, FAMU holds the highest standards for its employees and coaches are held to the same extent, which makes the arrest record for coaches at the school in recent years all the more surprising-Especially when the records are permanent and easily found.
“[McCoy] was picked up during a traffic stop,” Friend said. “We ran the license and saw the warrant and picked him up.”