Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Cheryl Littlejohn is back in the news, God help us.

You recall the history. Cheryl used to coach my Gophers. Yes, she coached Lindsay Whalen during her freshman year.

The Gophers were terrible, perpetually at the bottom of the Big Ten. But losing wasn't the worst of the Littlejohn era. . As Voepel said a few years ago, the whole thing was just disturbing to watch.

Eventually, some players spoke up, and the U started to investigate. The university found that Littlejohn had committed a variety of violations -- she gave players money, she broke recruiting rules, she exceeded practice limits, and she encouraged players to lie to investigators.

Minnesota fired her. Its stand was clear: "This case is fundamentally about misconduct of a head coach," said the U's legal counsel. Cheryl denied many of the allegations, but the NCAA eventually found them true and imposed sanctions on the Gophers.

Littlejohn, however, wasn't finished. She found a home at Chicago State. Apparently, the school hired her before Minnesota made public the nature and extent of her violations. Unfortunately, she didn't do any better at Chicago State.

According to the NCAA, Cheryl continued to break the rules. She was fired again, and the NCAA imposed sanctions on Chicago State. It also suspended Littlejohn until 2009.

After the facts of her second round of violations came out last year, I assumed that Cheryl's career as a women's hoops coach was over. Unbelievably, I was wrong. She resurfaced with the NWBL's Chicago Blaze in January.

Third time wasn't the charm. Earlier this month, the Blaze fired her. Blaze owner Joe McCoy wouldn't disclose the reason for the termination -- he would only say that it was for "basketball and nonbasketball matters."

I am hoping that now I can finally say with certainty that Cheryl won't coach again.

But wait -- this story has a punchline. Cheryl says that she's actually happy she got fired again, because now she can pursue her real passion: politics. She wants to move back home to North Carolina and run for office.

Are we to laugh or cry in response?