Columbia Coach Accused of Playing Concussed Athletes

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Columbia's football programs has had its fair share of struggles on and off the field.
Columbia's football programs has had its fair share of struggles on and off the field.

Editor's note: This story has been edited to reflect an update from Columbia University.

Columbia football coach Pete Mangurian, who has since resigned his position, tallied a 3-27 record in three seasons at the school, but that's not the worst of it according to his players.

According to the Columbia Spectator, 25 players laid out a series of scathing allegations against Mangurian in a letter to school officials. As the Spectator reports:

The grievances ranged from criticism of the way Mangurian handled the relationships between younger players and upperclassmen to claims that he pressured players to play with concussions.

“Pete Mangurian has consistently denied the diagnoses of concussions,” the letter stated. “There are several players who will speak to the fact that Mangurian told them to return to practice, that they are faking their concussions, and that they are being soft if they sit out for their concussion injury.”

The letter has since been withdrawn, and requests for comment by players regarding the circumstances behind the letter were declined.

According to a Columbia University release, Mangurian resigned Friday.

Other complaints in the letter included Mangurian being physically abusive, alienating players, imposing unrealistic weight regimens and delivering an abusive speech to the team in which he called the players "Terrible [expletive] people," and said "The world would be a better place without you."

The program's dysfunction appears to be rampant in all phases of the program. On the field, the Lions have lost 21 straight games with the team's last win coming on November 10, 2012. Off the field, a Columbia football player was charged with a hate crime after he allegedly assaulted and threatened other students with racial slurs. Meanwhile, the team's starting quarterback quit the team in October.


Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger announced that the University has accepted the resignation of Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Pete Mangurian effective immediately.

“I have accepted Pete Mangurian’s resignation because we have all come to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of Columbia Athletics,” said Bollinger. “Under Dianne Murphy, Columbia teams have built a new winning tradition across our men’s and women’s sports and we expect no less of our football program. We are committed to providing our dedicated student athletes with the best possible opportunities to succeed both on and off the field.  So we will now look forward to completing consultant Rick Taylor’s expert review of our football operations that will help us chart a new direction under a new coach.”

As for the football petition, here is the University's statement:

“The University routinely reviews complaints and concerns raised by students, even those that have been withdrawn.  While we don’t generally comment on specific cases under review, it is essential to note that Columbia adheres to a strict medical protocol regarding head injuries for all sports teams and our investigation has found no evidence to support an allegation of a departure from that protocol with our football players.  We are part of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents which has taken a leadership role in addressing concussions in college athletics and we place the highest priority on our students’ health and safety.”

RELATED: How to Manage Concussions in Athletics
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