Fire HIM!

A mediocre record and coddling thugs on his team didn't keep ASU football coach Dirk Koetter from getting a big raise


On the night of March 25, Wade was carrying a handgun and socializing with some friends when he discharged the pistol in a Tempe parking lot. The bullet nearly hit the foot of a fellow football player.

On that evening, Wade had obsessively telephoned van Blommestein, calling her about 40 times, court records state. Wade arrived at the Coyote Bay Night Club in Scottsdale shortly after 2 a.m. on March 26. Wade had been drinking and was very upset, according to police and court records.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies were patrolling the parking lot and observed Wade talking in an agitated manner on his cell phone. The cops were so concerned about his behavior that they began to follow Wade, who was about 100 yards away.

Dirk Koetter (right)
Photo AP/Wide World
Dirk Koetter (right)
In over her head: ASU athletic director Lisa Love
courtesy of Arizona State Archives
In over her head: ASU athletic director Lisa Love

One officer unholstered her Taser as they moved toward Wade as he walked in the direction of a car where van Blommestein was standing outside next to the driver's window. Wade confronted the driver, Brandon Falkner, and words were exchanged.

Within seconds, Wade pulled out the gun and struck Falkner on the side of head, witnesses told police. Then, the gun in Wade's hand discharged and killed Falkner.

Wade was immediately arrested.

According to court records, one MCSO officer stated, "Wade had made a spontaneous statement to his girlfriend on scene immediately after the shooting, something to the effect of, 'I did this because of you and I fucked up.'"

He was charged with first-degree murder and is being held on a $1 million bond in the Maricopa County Jail.

His trial is scheduled to begin June 19, and his attorney, Ulises A. Ferragut, is expected to argue that the shooting was accidental.

Ferragut has listed Koetter as a probable witness in court filings.

Four days after the killing, Koetter was interviewed by a Scottsdale police detective who asked the football coach a crucial question.

"Has Loren ever had to take any type of anger management as a result of any of your discipline?"

"No, no," the coach said.

While Koetter was cutting Wade plenty of slack to keep him on the team, the coach had no such patience for the man who was killed by his star player.

Brandon Falkner wasn't a starting player at ASU. Koetter kicked him off the team in June 2002 after Falkner failed to pay some traffic tickets and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. Falkner was re-enrolled at ASU when he was killed.

In response to the shooting, ASU president Crow convened a special committee to investigate the events leading up to the tragedy. The committee released a heavily censored report last July that attempts to distance the university from any liability for Wade's actions.

In a press release accompanying the report, the university states that "no ASU faculty or staff member had reasonable cause to suspect that Loren Wade might be capable of shooting another person."

But how can ASU make such a sweeping statement after evidence that has been publicly released clearly shows that Loren Wade was literally a time bomb waiting to explode?

Wade had threatened to kill a gymnast.

Wade had twice threatened to destroy his girlfriend's apartment and had threatened her life.

A woman was so terrified of Wade that she called the Scottsdale police and said he had a gun, which is a violation of athletic department rules.

Female soccer players were so scared of him that they told their coach that Wade was carrying a gun.

In an altercation, Wade had broken the wrist of the female ASU employee who had provided him the improper benefits, according to police reports.

What else did the athletic department and Koetter need to know before taking action that might have saved Falkner's life?

Instead of demanding that Wade receive counseling and reporting his threatening behavior to campus authorities, Koetter elected to allow his star player -- his possible ticket to a million-dollar bonus -- to rejoin the team.

The university's whitewash investigation also found no evidence that any ASU or Arizona Board of Regents policies or procedures had been violated. That's because the written policies are so vague that it's next to impossible for anyone to violate them.

The committee amazingly did find that former athletic director Gene Smith and Koetter made "errors in judgment" with respect to the handling of allegations of improper conduct by Wade.

But the university cast those errors in a positive light.

"We did not find that coaches and staff in the university's athletics department failed to try and help Loren Wade or other student-athletes," said ASU Law Professor Myles Lynk, who chaired the committee.

"Rather, we found that they tried to do too much, taking it upon themselves to provide services that can be better provided by other university components."

In other words, the university's official stance is that Koetter and other athletic department officials did "too much" to try to keep Wade from exploding. This would be laughable if an innocent, unarmed student hadn't been gunned down by one of the football team's elite players.

Thankfully, the university's self-serving excuse for an investigation is not the end of the matter.

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