Trying To Make Sense Of The Holowaty Mess At Eastern

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WILLIMANTIC

On the night of April 25, Bill Holowaty sounded deeply wounded and foreboding.

Amid allegations of abuse and a failure to comply with administration directives — suspended by his school — Holowaty had decided to retire after 45 years as Eastern Connecticut baseball coach.

"In time," Holowaty told The Courant, "the whole stuff will come out."

In a recent 3,500-word piece in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, Holowaty made sure his whole side did. He unloaded.

Holowaty said athletic director Jeff Konin led a "witch hunt" and president Elsa Nunez illegally allowed confidential information to be leaked to the media. The story ended with Holowaty saying, "I have been slandered without any regrets."

I was left astounded. If Holowaty is telling the truth, ECSU administration should be under fire. If Holowaty is not telling the truth, or is living in a world of delusion, it is imperative that this be known, too. And that's why I sought out Konin and Joseph Tolisano, the school's chief information and labor relations officer recently as a counterbalance to Holowaty's assertions.

"I find that statement to be ridiculous, ludicrous and unfair," Konin said when asked if he had been on a witch hunt.

Holowaty told Collegiate Baseball problems started shortly after Konin began as AD in July. He said he told Konin that everybody except him is afraid to say something to him because they have no tenure.

"The next day, he comes into my office and tells me that your tenure will not protect you from me," Holowaty told Collegiate Baseball. "It was a direct threat. From that day on, it has been hell on wheels."

Konin remembered their individual meeting differently.

"Bill made some comments I felt were very inappropriate about other staff members," Konin said. "I made it known to him via an email."

Konin read the email: It was a fairly mild rebuke.

"I believe there is no threat," he said.

The most controversial part of this story, of course, was the investigation into a pattern of verbal abuses of players by Holowaty. , That investigation was suspended when Holowaty resigned.

An incident of Holowaty throwing a helmet into the stands, however, was documented as one of the five charges of misconduct. Holowaty told Collegiate Baseball he was never asked his side of the story. Holowaty said a player threw a helmet, and he picked it up, looked in the stands to make sure nobody was around and threw it to show the player how childish his actions were.

"We're all about student education," Holowaty said. "I was trying to show this young man that throwing a helmet was simply not acceptable."

Helmet-throwing as a teaching moment? That sounds like a reach.

"And this is right after the Rutgers incident," Tolisano said. "That's a red flag."

More than that, Tolisano said, when he issued his report on the charges to Holowaty and his union representative, he allowed them time to review it and they reconvened.

"He had his opportunity to explain his actions," Tolisano said. "He didn't have anything to say."

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