Winning in the Worst Way

Rock Knapp transformed little Northwest Academy from gridiron patsy to playoff powerhouse. So why are some parents calling for his head?

Jeanette remembers Knapp repeating like a mantra, "I can't make a living here. I've got these four kids, and between the two of us we barely make $60,000." (Shari Knapp is a paid secretary to the school's headmaster, and the four children attend the school tuition-free.)

After Knapp told her he was out of groceries till payday, Ramming went to Luby's restaurant, bought several hundred dollars' worth of meal coupons and discreetly left them on his desk.

However, food coupons were the least of the largess heaped upon the coach and his family by the Rammings. Gifts included diamond and sapphire wedding bands for the Knapps, $7,637 of furniture for the Knapps' new home and $5,700 more in furniture they claim Knapp added to the Rammings' credit card bill. The Knapps say the additional amount went on an account co-signed by the Rammings which the coach is currently paying off.

The Rammings say they also gave Knapp $2,000 for his car payments and $800 that Ramming says was intended to buy one of the football players a car. When the purchase fell through, she told the coach to use the money on his house payment.

Jeanette says Knapp's constant complaints that he could not support his family finally led her and her husband to set up a nonprofit athletic association to benefit him.

"I told Rock maybe he could be executive director and draw a small salary, and some expenses could be paid," says Jeanette.

However, the largess that would impact the football program the most, and lead to eventual un-Christian confrontations, came when the Rammings pledged $20,000 from their family trust to finance tuition for football players. Knapp had his war chest. The recruiting efforts escalated.

Thou shalt not use financial incentives to recruit players. So say the commandments of the Salado-based Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. The rules forbid any encouragement of students "to change schools for the purpose of participating in a TAPPS activity by offering the student or the parents cash, waiver of tuition, board or lodging, transportation, a job or other valuable considerations to induce a student to enroll at a participant school."

That restriction was etched into TAPPS rules when Rebecca Phillips and her husband met Knapp while he was scouting a youth football game at the Inwood Dad's Club league. Their son Joshua played for Knapp in 1996. The coach wanted to know why they were not enrolling their other talented son, David, at Northwest.

Phillips was bluntly honest. She didn't think the cost of tuition was worth what David would receive in terms of an education and exposure to college recruiters.

In a statement filed later with school officials, Phillips and her husband say Knapp assured them that David could receive a scholarship under the Choice for Children program for underprivileged students, or from other funds Knapp had access to with no questions asked.

Phillips says she told the coach that she would not apply for low-income assistance because the questions on the application insulted her. Knapp, she says, replied, "Well, that's fine. I've got people that can do this without any questions asked."

"That sweetened the pot for me," says Phillips.
Knapp says that conversation never occurred, and that he told Phillips there was no guarantee that her son would receive such a scholarship. But her son David was one of the athletes who received a grant underwritten by the Rammings.

Knapp adds that since David was in junior high at the time, TAPPS rules allowed him to directly recruit Phillips. Offering free tuition as an incentive is another matter, however.

Jeanette Ramming says the coach told her that his handpicked admissions director at the school could get the players enrolled with no problems. Knapp says he told the Rammings the recipients had to go through a scholarship committee over which he had no control. Still, the players that the Rammings were told would receive scholarships did in fact get them.

Phillips took her complaints of recruiting violations and dishonesty to the school officials. They sided with Knapp, and she removed her son from the school.

Phillips, in a statement disputed by Knapp, says the coach instructed his recruits to tell admission interviewers that they wanted a Christian education, not that they were coming to the school because they wanted to play football.

"That's what they were instructed to do: lie," says Phillips. "Now David is an open and honest guy. I reared him that way. I told him, 'Look at what the lies get you -- they come back on you.' "

Houston Police Sergeant Detra Gobert may have gotten an unauthorized peek at Rock Knapp's secret playbook that night at the Rammings, but she'd already seen some disturbing indications that her own son had been enlisted as one of his chief recruiters.

Keith Lewis, then a junior, was among those included for a scholarship this year, even though he had paid tuition to attend the school since the seventh grade. But Lewis, a good performer on the field, was even better off the gridiron. At the coach's direction, according to his mother, he had recruited players at other schools for Knapp. In fact, Gobert says the coach once told her that Keith had "recruited half my football team."

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1 comments
El_Vitriole
El_Vitriole

Knapp has travelled all over the USA, coaching for 2 or 3 years at a dozen 'Christian" schools, talking the talk and definitely helping the football teams achieve wins.  However, in his latter years in Florida and Georgia, he represented himself as having won "Nine State Championships in Six States" which is completely FALSE and a LIE.  He won two State titles in 8-Man football, in 1980 and 1990 and the rest of the time he did well but did not win another State Title.  The man is a LIAR and the TRUTH is not in him.  However, he possesses the ability to fool the faithful and contiues to this day to find stupid people who are all to ready to believe every word he says.

 
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