'He actually let us down': Bethune-Cookman AD defends university after split with Ed Reed
Reggie Theus said he didn’t expect any of this.
Ed Reed’s controversial Instagram Live videos. Reed’s split from Bethune-Cookman University and his behavior since. This whole situation.
“I was absolutely shocked at the behavior and really appalled,” Theus, B-CU’s athletic director, said. “It’s sad because it’s so much bigger than Ed Reed.”
Talking with HBCU Gameday’s Vaughn Wilson on Wednesday, Theus gave his side of the story that’s played out over the last month and exploded in the last two weeks. He defended the university, its administration and himself against claims Reed has made this week and also stated the Pro Football Hall of Famer has “no shot” of returning as the program’s head coach despite pleas from Reed and the Wildcat players.
Theus has yet to respond to multiple requests from the Daytona News-Journal for an interview. The school’s athletic department says he will not be available until after the coaching search ends.
“We gave him a chance at his first head coaching job at Bethune-Cookman, and he actually let us down,” Theus said.
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It was Theus’ first public comment about Reed since the two sides entered into an agreement in principle Dec. 27 and then broke it off last weekend.
How Ed Reed got the Bethune-Cookman job
Bethune-Cookman fired former coach Terry Sims on Nov. 29 after back-to-back 2-9 seasons. Theus and his hiring committee received and reviewed more than 100 resumes when the job opened up, he said.
He created two categories: a short list — with Reed and two other names “just as big” as Reed but with more coaching experience — and a secondary list.
“Going back to when we made the change at football coach, I talked to the administration,” Theus said. “I said, ‘Listen, there is no reason for us to make a change if we’re not going to put a renewed emphasis on building our football program.’ Ed, to me, was a part of that overall building of the football program.”
Reed stood out to Theus because of his football pedigree, past community involvement and ability to excite the fanbase, recruits and potential donors.
“And I do believe he’s really about the kids,” Theus said.
Ed Reed's first days as coach
In the days after the agreement in principle, Reed arrived in Daytona Beach, telling Theus he wanted to check out the area and find a place to live, the athletic director said. Bethune-Cookman had retained two assistants from Sims’ staff. They were in charge with keeping the program running while Reed’s contract was being finalized.
“I did not expect him to stay,” Theus said.
Instead, Reed got right to work. He held team meetings, bonded with his players through dinners and game nights, and organized team cleanups. He also hit the recruiting trail. Theus said Reed was talking to several three- and four-star prospects.
Then came the videos.
Ed Reed's campus cleanup controversy
On Jan. 15, during one of the team’s campus cleanups, Reed hopped on Instagram Live and unleashed a profanity-laced rant. He bashed the leaders at HBCUs and complained about Bethune-Cookman’s facilities, saying the team was “picking up trash” around the football facilities and that his office wasn’t clean when he got here.
Theus broke this down piece by piece.
He said sports teams at all universities “do that all the time in terms of picking up around the campus.” He also said Reed should not have acted surprised about the facilities. When Reed came to Daytona Beach, Theus gave him a personal tour of the school.
“Ed was completely aware of our situation here at Bethune-Cookman,” he said. “... I showed him every single thing that was good about the program and every single thing that was not good.”
On Reed’s comments about the coach’s office, Theus cited Reed still not being an official B-CU employee. Theus said contract negotiations were almost finished, but they still had to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s” and get the terms ratified.
“His office was clean,” Theus said. “It just wasn’t clean to his specifications … When he said something about the office, he didn’t work here. He hadn’t signed his contract. I hadn’t done a major cleanup job because the (previous) coaches had just left the building not long ago.”
Theus also addressed Reed’s critiques of the school’s administration.
“When he started talking about our administration, our board of trustees and our president, he’s out of line because I’ve watched from my place, being new here, the work we’ve put in over even the last two years since I’ve been here as the athletic director and basketball coach,” Theus said. “Through their guidance and vision to even hire me as the athletic director shows that they’re stepping outside the box and trying to do something more.”
After the videos, Theus realized the relationship between Reed and the school was no longer sustainable. He talked with Reed about it.
“I tried to get Ed to understand that this was not going in the direction he wanted,” Theus said. “I tried to give him an opportunity in the conversation to try to make him understand that, what he did in that rant and the videos afterward, this was not going to work.
“I tried to show him that the university was not trying to challenge him or trying to put him in a bad light. We wanted him to be able to walk away with his head up and basically just deciding that it was something that didn’t work for him.”
Reed announced the split Saturday morning on social media. He met with the Wildcats and a group of recruits, again airing it on Instagram Live, and ranted about his ouster. He said he was not withdrawing his name from the position but that B-CU was forcing him out.
Theus said Reed was not authorized to meet with the team after their conversation.
Where Bethune-Cookman goes from here
Since the school’s annulment with Reed, the Wildcats have fought for the coach’s return on social media and in interviews. Students from around the university protested campus conditions Monday in a demonstration they say was sparked by Reed’s departure.
Still, Theus said Reed will not be restored as head coach.
“Guys at the airport were kind of laughing and stuff, and they were talking about the situation,” Theus said. “I said, ‘Well, why don’t you stand up in front of your bosses right now and have a cussing rant about how things are at your job and see what happens after that?'”
Theus is now tasked with finding his second head coach in the last two months. Reed was Theus’ first head football coaching hire since he took over Bethune-Cookman athletics in July 2021.
“Bethune-Cookman is still a great school to get your education from and play football even if Ed Reed is not here,” he said. “That is a fact.”
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: AD Reggie Theus defends Bethune-Cookman after Ed Reed controversy