Roger Goodell

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t the only one who’s been paying attention to football head coach Charlie Strong’s core vales. 

At a special meeting over telephone conference call Friday, the UT System Board of Regents unanimously endorsed Strong’s rules of honesty, treating women with respect, and zero tolerance for drugs, stealing or guns.  

“Consistent with the Board’s and chancellor’s previous actions on student success and wellbeing and in the same spirit, I move that the Board of Regents express its full support for UT-Austin head football coach Charlie Strong and his unwavering commitment to teaching, cultivating, supporting and demanding outstanding character, strong moral fiber and high core values in the young men he is charged to lead and teach,” said Gene Powell, regent and Board vice chairman.

After Strong was hired by the University in January, the regents subsequently approved his $5 million contract to coach the team. Since then, Strong has removed nine players from the team for violating team rules. As of Saturday’s home loss to Baylor, Strong has a 2-3 record as head coach.

Goodell met with Strong on Sept. 28 to discuss the coach’s values. The NFL is currently reevaluating its player conduct policies after a number of domestic abuse cases sprung up throughout the league since the start of the season.

“There’s a reason that the commissioner of the NFL sat down with Coach Strong,” said Steve Hicks, regent and Board vice chairman. “It’s because of the things he believes in are the right thing. I think that Vice Chairman Powell’s motion will prove that we stand firmly for those core values and what they mean to our student athletes, other students, the players, the coaches and their families.”

The board also expressed its support for the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center administration. The center, located in Houston, is currently being investigated by the American Association of University Professors for its use of seven-year term tenure.

“In recognition of the unique mission and international leadership of the University of Texas -MD Anderson Cancer Center in the fight against cancer, I move that the Board voice strong support for the outstanding work of the institution’s faculty, staff and administration,” Regent Robert Stillwell said. “I also move that the Board acknowledge appreciation for the work of the students, residents and fellows in training and for the trust shown by the patients receiving care at UT-MD Anderson.”

As Texas head coach Charlie Strong sat in his Moncrief office last Sunday morning, still savoring his team’s shutout victory over Kansas the day before, he received an unexpected phone call.

Troy Vincent, NFL’s executive vice-president of operations, whom Strong has known for quite a while, was calling. He and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were in Austin visiting the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and were hoping to meet up with Strong to discuss his commitment to his core values - treating women with respect, honesty, no stealing, no guns and no drugs - before they left town.

Sure enough, a couple hours later, Goodell and Vincent were overlooking Joe Jamail Field in Strong’s office while they picked the coach’s brain. 

“Just talked about just dealing with young people,” Strong said of the meeting. “Trying to make sure that we help them and learn all about character. Then just how do we deal with some of the issues that we’re dealing with right now on this level.”

Amid a flurry of NFL player misconduct issues ranging from domestic violence to sexual assault, Goodell and Vincent clearly felt they could learn from Strong, who has demonstrated a penchant for discipline since arriving in Austin.

With high-profile athletes like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy bringing the topic of domestic violence into the national eye, Strong has been lauded for what he’s done to combat misbehavior among athletes at the college level.

“I said to [Goodell] that what is happening in the NFL is we’re sending you some players of questionable character,” Strong said. “We have to do a better job in college of preparing these young men.”

Strong has preached a culture of discipline from the moment he stepped off the plane in Austin, but his recent actions have proven he’s about more than just saying the right thing.

The former Louisville boss has dismissed nine Longhorns and suspended three more in his nine months on campus, all for violations of team rules, which stem from his core values. Aside from the two players who were dismissed after being charged with sexual assault, it’s unknown which core value the other 10 athletes violated. But one thing is clear — regardless of who you are, if you do wrong, you will be punished accordingly under Strong’s rule.

“It doesn’t matter what level they are at — they’re all still looking for discipline, and you have to discipline players,” Strong said. “If we’re going to continue to let this happen, why are you going to say what you’re going to do and you don’t even do it?”

With so many athletes making headlines for all the wrong reasons, many have cited Strong as the kind of leader American sports desperately need.

NFL executives are taking notice, Texas administrators are taking notice — the Board of Regents is scheduled to endorse Strong’s values Friday — students on campus are taking notice, and, most importantly, Longhorn players are taking notice.

“Everybody respects Coach Strong, and I think that’s evident,” senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “The values that he’s brought in aren’t really anything new, but he shows the ability to stand by them and not bend or fold just because a player is a good athlete.”

In an era where the world of sports is dominated by the idea that winning takes care of everything, Strong is determined to take care of everything, then worry about winning.

Since arriving at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong has dismissed nine players from the football program. The Longhorns hold a 2-2 record after shutting out Kansas on Saturday. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Although the Longhorns didn’t return from Lawrence, Kansas, until late Saturday night, head coach Charlie Strong was back at work Sunday morning. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, met with Strong to seek his advice on the moral dilemmas plaguing the league.

“[Strong’s] emphasis on character [and] respect over talent is molding the next generation of football talent,” Vincent tweeted. “Commissioner and I are focused on strengthening relationships with colleges. Thank you for your time today [Charlie Strong].”

The NFL has recently come under fire for its lax discipline policies. The league received broad criticism for waiting to discipline Ray Rice, former Baltimore Ravens running back, following allegations of domestic violence. After the accusations spread and video footage went viral, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract Sept. 8. The
Minnesota Vikings placed running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted for child abuse, on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list
on Sept. 17.

Throughout the month, the NFL has worked to restore its image and credibility amid criticism from a wide range of outlets. Goodell visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin for three hours on Saturday night. The following morning, he and Vincent met with 11 former NFL players, followed
by Strong.

“This morning, [Goodell] [and] I met [with] [Coach Strong] to discuss core values, game integrity, [and] college relations. Great meeting, great input,” Vincent tweeted.

Strong’s “core values” have attracted national attention during his time at Texas and at Louisville. Strong requires players to be honest, treat women with respect and refrain from drugs, stealing and guns — all policies he actively enforces. Since arriving in Austin, Strong has dismissed nine players who violated team rules and three other players are currently suspended from playing in games.

Most recently, Strong dismissed junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle on Tuesday. 

“The blueprint of this program has been and always will be the change in helping direct the lives of young people,” Strong said. “I’m sorry that another player had to be dismissed, but when you’re told something over and over again, then you want to make sure that you’re provided with the right resources so that you can change lives.”

John Clayton, ESPN senior NFL writer, said in an interview that Goodell met with Strong in hopes of expanding his response resources and developing a long-term
disciplinary plan.

“Strong has been dealing with issues at his school, and what the league and what the players association want to do is try to find different types of ideas that they can use to come up with some kind of a plan because I think it’s pretty evident they don’t have a plan that’s working right now,” Clayton said.