Letter to the Editor: Criticism of coach undeserved

Mr. Peterson,
I learned something this past weekend that would have helped my life a long time ago: I shouldn’t be so eager to voice my opinion about situations when I am not the expert. There is one thing we can control in life and that is ourselves. You, my friend, have a passion to voice an opinion and that is a very good thing. As a journalism major, I am sure you are aware of the philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau. Rousseau, a French philosopher and champion of liberty, was hunted and pursued from one place to another because of his opinions. When Voltaire, another philosopher and writer, heard of it, he invited Rousseau to come and live in his house. When Rousseau finally arrived, Voltaire said, “I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” Unlike Voltaire, I am married, and my wife said she doesn’t want a stranger staying at our house.

I was at the Rider-Niagara game on March 8, where Rider fans were outnumbered 5,000-1 all weekend long, while you were rolling around in disgust on your living room floor (Craig J. Peterson, “Basketball loss upsets alumnus,” April 3). I am a graduate of Villanova University, and yet it is me who is paying for and supporting your college, while you are at home analyzing young men and their coaching staff from the recliner you just rented to host a Rider alumni party.

Mr. Peterson, we could have used you at the game. If you came to support your college, you would have seen firsthand how several Rider players tried fouling before an absolute prayer was launched from 30 feet, and then banked in from almost the top of the key. You then would have seen Ryan Thompson, younger brother of Rider alumnus Jason Thompson, show his coach, Tommy Dempsey, a debt of gratitude by fighting back from seven down to force a second overtime. If my coach put my brother in the NBA and secured a real way for Rider to begin building that gym you are so worried about, I would do anything for that coach.

Mr. Peterson, I think you and I can help construct this new gym if we work together. I think we should meet with the president of Rider and ask him his thoughts on Rider’s basketball program, which has won more games in the last three seasons than in any other three-year stretch in Rider’s history. Then we should ask the president of Rider University what he thinks about Tommy Dempsey winning the Coach of the Year award at the age of 34.

Let’s examine: You want a new gym. Tommy Dempsey has helped Rider University get its first ever NBA basketball player and its second, third and fourth are on the way…please help me out, Rousseau! You want a new gym, but you want the president of Rider to get rid of the one coach responsible for putting Rider University on the map. I might have considered going to Rider back in the early ’90s, but I hadn’t heard of it. Maybe if you actually published something worthwhile in the ’80s, I would have read it, and then I would have said, “great article, book, poem, etc…” and then I might have said, Who is this Peterson guy, and where is Rider University? So do you really want a new gym, Mr. Peterson? Because if you do, I will meet you for lunch and talk about ways to get this done.

Last month, I attended the MAAC tournament to support Rider with a graduate from the University of Scranton, two from Lafayette College and one from Bloomsburg. You can join us next year, and you are more than welcome to stay with me since my wife won’t be with me. Just be aware that coming to this tournament takes effort, time, sacrifice and, above all, some money to help us build a new gym. Do you really want a new gym? Because from what I see, Rider has a great athletic director, a great head coach, terrific assistants and, for the first time in its history, people who are willing to give back and not forget where they came from.
Kevin M. Haggerty
Villanova University ’95
B.A., Political Science

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