Ex-MSU players support practice claims

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Two of Forrest Moore’s former teammates support his claims against Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen.
Mark Goforth and Ryan Powers, who concluded their MSU careers in 2009 – the same year as Moore – say in separate sworn statements that much of what Moore states in his lawsuit against Cohen is true.
“We all knew we were doing stuff we shouldn’t have been doing, but there’s nothing that we could’ve done,” Goforth told the Daily Journal.
Goforth’s affidavit was filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court earlier this week, a few days after Cohen filed a motion to dismiss. Powers’ affidavit has not yet been filed, but the Daily Journal has learned of its contents.
One of the accusations lodged by Moore is that Cohen required players to practice and work out far beyond the time limits set forth by the NCAA. Goforth, who was an outfielder, said in his affidavit that the Bulldogs practiced as many as six to seven hours in a day and 40-45 hours in a week during the fall of 2008.
He said that schedule continued the following spring, except for game days. Goforth also said the players didn’t have a true day off.
He supported Moore’s claim that Cohen did not allow players to fill out or review their practice time sheets, instead giving them blank ones to sign or initial.
Goforth noted that it was always an assistant coach or someone else passing out the sheets, never Cohen.
Goforth played for coach Ron Polk for three seasons before Cohen took over. He said Polk always stopped practice when the time limit was reached and always let the players fill out or review the time sheets.
The extra practice time cut into school work, according to Goforth, who graduated in 2009 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies and is working with a property appraisal company in his hometown of Covington, Tenn.
“We worked out some in the mornings, but we were doing a lot of practice stuff before class,” he said. “After being at the field all day the night before, it affected a lot of stuff.”
Moore claims that the excessive practice time exacerbated his arm injury, which he says was not properly diagnosed by team doctor Rusty Linton. He also says that Cohen forced him to do normal running the day after breaking his nose, which made that injury worse.
Goforth remembers that day.
“I remember him spending a good amount of the night before at the hospital, doing a bunch of stuff, and the next morning he’s up there running with us, and his eyes are swollen shut,” Goforth said. “He looked pretty bad.”
He also remembers Moore pitching in pain.
“I saw him the year before, and he had a lot more velocity on his ball,” Goforth said. “He had said to me several times, ‘Man, I’m hurting.’”
In his affidavit, Powers also claims to having an injury “incorrectly diagnosed” by Linton. Powers said after he was hit by a pitch against Georgia, Linton said there was no break. An X-ray by MSU student health services revealed two broken bones, and Powers said a doctor in his home state of New York told him the injury was “exacerbated” by his play.
Powers, who played middle infield, also says Cohen was going to reduce his scholarship allotment by half for the 2009-10 school year. Powers transferred to Saint Leo (Fla.) University, where he played the past two seasons. He hit .320 in 48 games during the 2011 season.
Powers could not be reached for comment.
In his lawsuit, Moore says Cohen took away his scholarship without following proper procedure and forced him to accept permanent medical status, effectively ending Moore’s college career. He also says Cohen told other players that their scholarships allotments were being reduced.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571
or brad.locke@journalinc.com.