In early October, Caylin Newton, brother of 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, announced on Twitter that he had decided to transfer from Howard. A day later, a report surfaced in which Howard’s head coach, Ron Prince, was accused by anonymous parents of harassing, bullying and verbally and mentally abusing his football players since he arrived at the FCS program this past offseason.
One month after confirming that the allegations were under investigation, the university announced Wednesday night that Prince has been placed on administrative leave as the probe continues.
Howard University is committed to completing our internal investigation of the allegations involving concerns about the football program. As a result of our continuing investigation, the University has decided to place Head Football Coach Ron Prince on administrative leave effective immediately. Director of Football Operations Aaron Kelton will serve as the interim coach until further notice. Howard University is committed to ensuring our athletic programs reflect Howard’s core mission and values and to ensuring the well-being and success of all student-athletes.
The website HBCU Gameday reported in October that they had “been contacted by several parents of Howard football players who accuse Prince of being verbally abusive and intimidating to the student-athletes. Additionally, the website wrote at the time that “parents accused Prince of sending injured players home without treatment and creating an atmosphere of intimidation within the program by the constant threat of loss of scholarships.”
The site also published an anonymous letter that been sent to not only the university’s president and athletic director but also to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as well as the NCAA. In the letter, an unnamed parent described Prince as a “hostile and abusive head coach,” stating that “Prince has been threatening, hostile, abusive, and disrespectful of the young men and coaching staff at Howard University since his arrival.”
“The harassment, bullying, verbal, and mental abuse needs to STOP!” the letter continued. “He has demoralized, ridiculed, and threatened the players on the team since his arrival. …
“You hold all [student-athletes] to a very high standard, if there is an allegation about misconduct they are suspended and or removed from the team, and maybe from the institution. Why are coaches not held to the same standard when it comes to blatant disrespect and harassment of [student-athletes]?”
The letter also levies various accusations at Prince, including calling players “cowards” or “sorority sisters”; making church service attendance mandatory; a bizarre alleged threat of an FBI investigation over point-shaving; and telling players he knows someone in the locker room is gay and he wants them to come out because he wants to have the first openly homosexual player in the country.
“I know currently these are just allegations,” the parent wrote. “I sincerely hope that there is an investigation into what is being reported and that the hostile environment is addressed before a student has a mental breakdown or commits suicide because of this treatment.”
The 50-year-old Prince, who has steadfastly claimed he has no knowledge of the allegations, is in his first season as the head coach at Howard, with the Bison currently sitting with a 1-8 in a season that included a 79-0 loss to Maryland in the opener.
A longtime college football coach, Prince spent three years (2006-08) as the head coach at Kansas State after succeeding Bill Snyder following his first retirement. This past season, Prince was an offensive analyst for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.