Talk about a smoking gun. Seton Hall basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez clearly had alienated part of the community at the school with his abrasive behavior and questionable recruiting practices, but it appears the catalyst for his ouster might have been the arrest on Tuesday of Robert Mitchell, a player Gonzalez dismissed from the squad on Sunday.
Mitchell's dismissal followed critical remarks he made about the coach during the Big East tournament last week. According to Essex County police reports, where the South Orange, N.J. campus is located, Mitchell and another man entered a local residence and held eight people at gunpoint, herding them into a common room. The pair then proceeded to take cash, debit cards, credit cards, digital cameras and cell phones.
They were arrested on Tuesday and charged with kidnapping, robbery, burglary and weapons offenses. The kidnapping charge alone carries a sentence of 10-20 years. Bail was set at $650,000, and Mitchell is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
Gonzalez was the subject of a recent article in the New York Times in which his behavior was criticized by his former boss at Manhattan, athletic director Bob Byrnes and by sources at Seton Hall. When the season began, transfer Keon Lawrence was arrested on a DUI charge for driving the wrong way on the Garden State Parkway and crashing into another car.
In a statement released by Seton Hall, Patrick Hobbs, dean of the law sschool, who has been overseeing the athletic department since July, said: "Performance and success are not measured solely by wins and losses, but also in the conduct of those associated with the. We have expectations as to how our coaches and players will conduct themselves, and they are expected to treat everyone they interact with, whether officials, the press or our students, with the utmost respect, maturity and professionalism. Those core expectations must be met."
Obviously, Mitchell's arrest and the tumultuous circumstances surrounding his dismissal served to underscore the program's problems under Gonzalez and prompt the university and athletic director Joe Quinlan to take action against the coach, who had signed an extension through 2015 last September.