Johnson: 2011 charge led to decision to withdraw from CofC coach search

Published: Aug. 27, 2014 at 8:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2014 at 4:05 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Former College of Charleston basketball star Anthony Johnson withdrew his name Wednesday from consideration for the college's head basketball coaching job, citing a previous charge of disorderly conduct. Court records show the charge stems from a 2011 physical dispute between Johnson and his then-wife.

According to Cobb County court records, Johnson was involved in a physical dispute with his then-wife the night of June 10, 2011. Records state Johnson used one hand to push the victim, who was pregnant, in the area of her throat.

Johnson was initially charged with disorderly conduct, simple battery, simple battery of a pregnant female, and third degree cruelty to a child, according to affidavits.

Through plea proceedings, records show Johnson later pled No Contest to disorderly conduct. As part of the agreement, Johnson was ordered to spend two months in jail, with the remainder of the sentence being suspended after serving 19 days. The other three charges were not pursued, documents state.

"I pled No Contest to disorderly conduct. In the best interest of my family, CofC and the community, I decided to no longer pursue the [head coach] position," Johnson said in a statement. "The administration was told before they did any research. I let a lot of people down."

On Wednesday, Johnson's announcement came just hours after the other finalist for the job, Wofford head coach Mike Young, withdrew his name from consideration and decided to stay with the Terriers, as first reported by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

The move is a shocking blow to the College of Charleston, which hoped to make an announcement at some point this week about who would be replacing Doug Wojcik, who was fired earlier this month.

Young was one of two names a search committee, formed by school President Glenn McConnell, turned into the President for consideration as the next head coach last week. It is believed Johnson was the second of the two names.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Johnson said, "I am ending my pursuit of the position of Head Men's Basketball Coach at the College of Charleston." The CofC Hall of Famer said family issues played a role in his decision.

"I have a personal matter, my divorce in June of 2013, that requires my full attention, as my wife and I are working hard to reconcile. This is my top priority at this time and what is in the best interests of my family, especially my two beautiful kids."

After thanking President McConnell and AD Joe Hull, Johnson ended the statement saying "I know they will find a great coach for the CofC. Unfortunately, at this time, I can not continue in my pursuit of that position."

In a statement to Live 5 Sports Wednesday afternoon, Young said "After going through this and being respectful of the process, it became clear that Wofford is where I needed to be at this time. My team came back to campus today and they deserve, and will always have my complete energy/attention."

Early Wednesday evening, Johnson would release another statement on the backlash CofC was getting in missing out on their top 2 targets. "My decision was one outside of basketball and outside of the College of Charleston and is in no way a reflection of the search process, nor of the support given to me by the administration. I'm sorry that my announcement came at such a crucial time, but I will always be a Cougar and will always support my College of Charleston."

The decisions from the two coaches now leaves CofC scrambling to find the next leader of the program. In addition to Young and Johnson the school reportedly also interviewed Clemson assistant and North Charleston native Earl Grant, NC State assistant Bobby Lutz, UConn assistant Karl Hobbs and Virginia assistant Ritchie McKay.

In an interview with Live 5 News on Tuesday President McConnell talked about the lengthy time he appeared to be taking in making a final decision to hire a head coach saying "My legal background and my experience tells me, before I make a decision make sure I have all the facts. Once I have all the facts, I'll make a decision."

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