By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Coach Dirk Koetter should be charged as an accomplice in the murder of Brandon Rashad Falkner. The coach, without remorse, made a gluttonous decision to obstruct justice by not reporting Loren Wade's criminal behavior to the authorities. Koetter's self-serving inaction took Brandon's life and endangered the lives of the women who feared the unstable Wade.
Had Brandon Falkner been the child of one of Arizona's white affluent residents, Koetter would be Wade's bunk buddy in jail. After all, race and socioeconomic posturing is really what this situation is all about. Speaking of which, the thought that ASU will most likely spend tax and tuition contributions for Koetter's court fees against Falkner's father, an ASU employee, sickens me.
Before John Dougherty's article, Brandon's death had been trivialized in the media as that of just another ex-player, ex-ASU student and victim of "black on black" crime over a white girl.
Well, that is not how it was!
Haley van Blommestein (Wade's girlfriend) had been a friend of Brandon's and the Falkner family for years. She met brothers Brandon and Jelani Falkner when they were undergrad athletes at ASU many years ago. They were just friends.
Brandon had returned only months earlier from Germany where he played football for the Schwaebisch Hall Unicorns. With the team and on his own time, Brandon had traveled all over Europe and was thrilled with all of the sights, sounds and cultural adventures he had experienced. He returned to Phoenix more mature, well versed about things European and super seasoned by a great energy and a new depth.
Haley hadn't seen Brandon since his return to the Valley. Who knew the brief reunion would be deadly?
Had you met him, you would have known Brandon to be physically beautiful, sincere, charming, personable, articulate, polite and intelligent. He had a smile that was so bright, warm and inviting.
Was Wade jealous? Yes! Unstable? Without question!
When Brandon was killed, words were not "exchanged" as has been repeatedly reported. Why do the media get this wrong? They have only to interview any one of the young men who were in the car with Brandon that night. Wade walked up to Brandon, hit him in the head with the gun and then shot him.
When Brandon was slain, I insisted on speaking with Coach Koetter. He told me repeatedly during phone conversations that he was "sorry." Koetter said there was no way anyone could predict another's actions. He phoned a few times, gave me his numbers and had his representatives call to tell me what they were trying to do (at the time) to help Brandon's family.
ASU didn't want to publicly assist because this might look like an admission of guilt. Then, news reports revealed that Koetter had indeed known about Wade's proclivities. I never heard from Koetter or his office again.
When I spoke at Brandon's funeral, I noticed Koetter was not in attendance.
When the coach was rewarded for his bad behavior with a raise and a new contract, I felt really helpless and began to wonder, when, if ever, do the bad guys stop profiting? When I saw the New Times article, I felt it necessary to write this letter. The truth of the matter is, instead of being fired, Koetter should just resign. It would be his first right move in all of this mess, unless he knows how to return to B. Lee Falkner his son and Jelani Falkner his only brother.
Congratulations to John Dougherty. Thank God someone is telling it like it is!
Jamise Liddell, Brandon Falkner's cousin
The truth hurts: I just read your article on Sun Devils football coach Dirk Koetter, and you hit the nail on the head about the real problems with Arizona State University athletics.
I have been a supporter of ASU football for more than 40 years, but this year I dropped my loge tickets that I've had on the 50-yard line after seeing the way the program is going.
ASU has hired a guy who doesn't know football better than you or I, and giving him a big raise was insane.
In addition, the price of my four loge tickets this year was raised to $2,200, and for a nothing team.
You're right that Koetter's record does not merit any salary increase. Your article was great; it's nice to hear the truth about what's going on with ASU football. I hope somebody in charge reads it and wakes up.
Athletic director Lisa Love and Koetter should go!
Howard Covey, Phoenix
Devils' advocate: Maybe you should stick to covering the arts at New Times because you obviously don't know a great deal about how athletic teams work.
First off, I have to say I did like ASU basketball coach Rob Evans, but he didn't produce the results that the school wanted.
I'm not saying I like Dirk Koetter a whole lot, but to basically blame him for what Loren Wade did is wrong. Let's say Koetter reported him: Chances are Wade would have been kicked off the team and/or suspended. Everyone says this guy is on the angry side, so taking that kind of drastic action might have resulted in more than the one death.