A coach unravels again

Coach Chris Craig continues in mental illness spiral
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 8:33pm

After calling in a bomb threat to an elementary school by sending the threat in an email message to several media outlets, Chris Craig, 35, found himself back in jail Sept. 18.

The former USU Eastern basketball coach, sent the email to the El Paso Times, where he was a guard on the UTEP basketball team from 2002-04.

The El Paso Times and other media outlets received an email from Craig stating that he “will call 911 with a threat of an explosive and drive onto my 9 yr olds elementary school, Eagle Valley Elementary, with a True Explosive.”

Craig wrote he “was born into this world under the slave name of Christopher Craig. Currently, I am known as The Radical Islamic Jihadist Muhammad Allah Al-Khidr.”

“My reason for writing Today is because of my pending arrest and hunger strike which begins when I press send on this Discourse of Truth. In 2 hours, call Eagle Mountain PD in Eagle Mountain, UT if you think I am bluffing. Ask them,” he wrote.

At one point he wrote, “Racism is the reason for my hunger strike, to take this conversation deeper, to The Truth, Core, and roots.”

He described black men as “the most racist, bigoted group of homo sapien primates” and titles the message “in honor of Skylar Dore” - an allusion to a Louisiana police chief who was fired after a profanity-laced Facebook post about the death of white police officers in Baton Rouge.

The email was sent to media outlets, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and others.

In the message sent to The Salt Lake Tribune at 1:10 p.m. and other news organizations, the email describes a promised bomb threat and a hunger strike Craig plans to conduct in jail.

He says he will await the return of Prophet Isa, the name for Jesus Christ in the Quran.

Craig was taken into custody wearing the same long, light-green tunic he was wearing when he drove over the sidewalk at his children’s elementary school in Price in April 2014.

At that time, Craig was arrested for driving his car, covered with spray-painted bible verses, through the bus turn around, jumping the curb and traveling across the playground before coming to a stop outside one of the classrooms, according to the USU Eastern Eagle newspaper.

He pleaded guilty a year later to misdemeanor counts of driving on a suspended license, failure to disclose identity and attempted reckless endangerment. Charges of disruption of activities in or near a school building and reckless driving were dismissed.

A year before, Craig was arrested in Arizona after walking into several classrooms on the campus of Eastern Arizona College after yelling derogatory remarks at professors and students. He also made headlines last summer in Colorado after causing scenes around churches while wearing a homemade turban and sunglasses.

USA Today reported that in 2013 in Steamboat Springs, Colo., that Craig claimed to be an “Islamic jihadist” and that everyone would know how he was in a couple of weeks. He was not arrested.

That same year Fort Collins police sent a memo to local churches to keep an eye out for a man who had threatened Mormons and Catholics “would be destroyed.” The man was later identified as Craig.

Since 2014, the only time Craig had contact with the police was in January 2016. Craig “became agitated and yelled obscenities at (a) deputy in a threatening manner” during a routine Utah County traffic stop,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

He was the head coach of the Golden Eagles from 2007 to 2010 where he was the youngest head coach in NJCAA Division I history. In the 2009-10 athletic year Craig helped to guide the men’s basketball team to the national tournament where they placed third in the nation.

He then moved to the University of Northern Colorado as an assistant coach for one year before taking over the head coaching job at Midland College, a position he held for a year.

In a 2014 article, Sports Illustrated reported that Craig has a history of hospitalization for mental illness. His family told the magazine that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

USU Eastern athletic director Dave Paur said, “I feel bad for him and his family. I hope that there is some way that he can be helped medically so that he can return to his family. I wish I could do something to help him.”

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