Iowa State University’s new head men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm (below) looks like a legal problem waiting to happen.
The season hasn’t started yet, and one of the only things we know about him is that he’ll be pushing his Christian faith onto his players, says Dick Haws a former journalism professor at the school:
For instance, in basketball practice, he said, he’ll be praying with his players — and asking some designated player to make a prayer request. I know the caveat in all this: That any player at any time can opt out. No one is being forced to do anything. You can be who you want to be.
Prohm’s basketball players are impressionable young men, many still teenagers. They want to keep that scholarship, they want to play that basketball, they want to get that good recommendation from the coach. So, when coach asks them about prayer, they’ll know there’s only one right answer‘.
Even if the team consisted entirely of Christian players, what Prohm wants to do is illegal. He’s supposed to be their coach, not their pastor. This isn’t news, either. When Prohm was at Murray State University before this, religion was part of the coaching:
Lessons from the Bible become the mantra of Prohm teams. Last year, the Racers’ inspiration came from the book of Nehemiah…
So the primary theme of last year’s Racer team became “Stay on the wall. Do not be distracted. There is important work to be done.” The Racers wore practice T-shirts monogrammed with “Stay on the Wall,” and they won the OVC Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
That’s tiptoeing the line to the point of falling on the wrong side of it. But when a coach is praying with players or calling on someone to make prayer requests, it’s absolutely unacceptable.
Iowa State, like Murray State, is a secular school. If Prohm can’t separate his faith from his coaching, he’s at the wrong place. There’s not much to do right now other than keep an eye on him to see how far he strays into unconstitutional territory.
Looks like ISU won’t learn its lesson until a lawsuit is filed against them.
(Image via Des Moines Register video. Thanks to Brian for the link)