Full Court Press

Was it a harmless HBU jock initiation -- or hard-core hazing -- that shattered a freshman's hoop dreams?

"I believe the gist of the conversation was that, you know, 'Look -- you have to understand that you're not as talented. You're not as good as the other players. That's why you're not getting the playing time,' " assistant coach Grissom said in his deposition. "Matt seemed to understand. It was his mother that started crying and ran out of the room saying that her son was great and that we were the devil, I guess."

The coaches "were just mean and spiteful, and they were angry and just as evil as could be," Lynn Wohlfahrt said. "[They] all agreed that Matt was a lousy player and he was never going to play basketball at HBU. He was there only as a water boy, a trainer, a helper, whatever."

Matt Wohlfahrt left HBU soon after that, but there was a strange coda to the family's dealings with the university.

Freshman basketball players got their heads shaved at a team party.
Hadley Hooper
Freshman basketball players got their heads shaved at a team party.

A month later, St. Edwards University came to HBU's Sharpe Gymnasium to play the Huskies. Matt's brother John played for St. Edwards.

Lynn Wohlfahrt was at the game with a family friend. Coincidentally, HBU president Hudo was sitting right behind her, although she didn't recognize him and he didn't introduce himself. But as both of them watched the game, they heard the crowd begin chanting "Wohlfahrt" louder and louder.

"It was humiliating and shocking," Lynn Wohlfahrt said. Eventually, she said, a security guard escorted her and her companion out, expressing concern for their safety.

Hudo said he heard the chanting but didn't think much of it. "I thought it was all in good jest," he said in his deposition.

"Would you be surprised if Mrs. Wohlfahrt didn't take it that way?" he was asked.

"It was very obvious to me that she didn't take it that way," he said.

There also have been some momentary flare-ups, she said, when Matt or one of his three brothers runs across any of his former teammates.

"I don't think it's ever going to end," she says. She and her husband say Matt's become a different person from the "easygoing" son they remember.

"It's obvious that he's developed problems with getting easily frustrated at things," Douglas Wohlfahrt says.

For his part, HBU lawyer Williams says his clients have been equally affected. "Coach Cottrell, candidly, is a guy who I'd want to be my son's coach if my son played basketball," he says. "He's just a very good fella…and I'm so sorry that he has had to endure something like this."

The trial will certainly go far when it comes to putting an end to the unhappy meeting of the Wohlfahrts and Houston Baptist University. One side or the other will convince a jury to believe their version of the truth.

The scars on both sides, however, are likely to last a long time.

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