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?

Rock Knapp, his wife, Shari, and lawyer Hilary Borow met the Houston Press for an interview at Houston Christian High School, the former Northwest Academy, but they would say little. Knapp displayed both tears and occasional flashes of anger. As for the Rammings, he said, "I love their son Temple, and I wish with all my heart he was still at Houston Christian playing football."

By contrast, he said Temple's parents had made his life "absolute hell," disrupted his mission of working with young people and even endangered his pregnant wife's health. Knapp, who had not been on campus the previous week, is under treatment from a health care professional for unspecified problems resulting from the situation. "Let's not go into that," murmured his attorney.

Clad in a blue school pullover, Knapp lamented that he had hoped the controversy with the Rammings would go away without media publicity, but that it only seemed to be getting worse. Leaning across the table, he fixed this reporter with a glare and warned that he was "really angry" that "they had brought the stinking kids into this."

"I love working with teenage boys," declared the coach. His wife averred, "it's our ministry."

Knapp flatly denied he'd ever cheated or broken TAPPS regulations in recruiting football players. He said he never told players to lie about their recruitment. On the advice of his attorney, the coach reluctantly declined to answer any other specific questions.

The Knapps later requested a chance to provided detailed answers to the allegations against him. When they met with the Houston Press the day before Easter, Knapp seemed a different person. Affable, collected and occasionally witty, he even joked about his educational credentials.

The coach insisted he has never violated TAPPS rules and that several athletes he wanted were turned down by Northwest Academy administrators because they could not meet school standards.

"I have been to the state championship the last three years in a row," said Knapp, thrusting out a hand and spreading his fingers. "No rings. If we'd have taken the kids to rig the program and had those kids come in, I would be wearing, unequivocally, three state championship rings."

Knapp traces his problems to the Rammings' anger over the kicking incident in practice. "I believe this entire affair began because Jeanette was vehement about me firing a particular coach, and I said no."

The coach just wants to get back to the students and continue the pursuit of that elusive state championship.

"I just want this to be over," he said wearily.

Knapp predicted to the Houston Press that the school would stand behind him 100 percent. Sure enough, a letter to that effect was forthcoming 24 hours later from Bisagno's replacement as board chairman, Pastor David McKechnie of Grace Presbyterian Church.

"I love sports," declares McKechnie, in the missive addressed to school staff and supporters. "Athletics is an important catalyst for developing character. Thankfully, that is what's happening on our campus under coach Ted Knapp's leadership."

As with other officials, McKechnie pointedly disassociates himself from any previous complaints. He says the new Houston Christian is separate and distinct from Northwest Academy and that he was not associated with that school.

"I am satisfied that all allegations have been thoroughly investigated. In the absence of any other information, I stand by Coach Knapp and his wife, Shari," concludes McKechnie. "It is my prayer that innuendos will not deter Houston Christian High School from pursuing its God-given opportunity to provide the very best education possible for the future leaders of America."

So it seems the Almighty is a solid ally of the Mustangs' mentor.
One parent put part of the blame on the Rammings and their money for bringing troubled kids to the school. "The school didn't have the resources to bring all those kids in until Jeanette started writing checks."

That theme was also carried by Brad Bracewell, a banker who became chairman of Houston Christian's administrative board after the controversy began.

"My impression is no one was holding a gun to the Rammings' heads," Bracewell says. "I think they were trying to buy the program, and when they got crosswise with Ted, it wasn't such a good situation anymore.

Jeanette Ramming says she and her husband hold themselves accountable for the financial influence. "Part of the damage that was done here we did with our checkbook. And we're very remorseful."

But the Rammings refuse to allow the controversy to fade with Knapp retaining his position. "The only thing we know to do is to right it, by turning the lights up till all the facts are disclosed," she says. "And everybody has a chance to step up to their responsibility as well."

She says Bisagno met with the couple late last month and offered to get church members to donate money to replace the missing gate receipts. The Rammings say they want nothing more than an accounting of the missing money and for Knapp to be held responsible for his actions.

That apparently won't happen.
"We've done everything imaginable to try to make them happy," says Bracewell. "We visited with them on the phone, we went to see them, asked, 'What can we do to bury the hatchet.' "

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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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