The man who was once the youngest college basketball coach in the U.S. was charged Friday with threat of terrorism after he allegedly threatened to bomb a Utah elementary school.
Chris Craig, who was a star high school basketball player before coaching college teams, now claims to be an “Islamist jihadist,” KTLA’s Phoenix affiliate WJW reported.
Craig, who initially told police his name was Mohammed, paced outside of a Utah elementary school threatening to blow it up, authorities said. The school was evacuated and he was arrested after a tense standoff and booked into jail on $25,000 bail.
A search of his vehicle did not yield any explosives, but Craig, 35, has been charged with threat of terrorism, interference with arresting officers, failure to disclose identity, disorderly conduct and disrupting operations of a school, according to KTLA sister station KSTU.
A 2014 Sports Illustrated article, “A Coach Unbalanced,” portrayed Craig as struggling with mental illness.
“It’s disappointing. It’s painful. You wonder why,” said Craig’s former coach Kelly Green, who is now the head coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Green coached Craig while at Arizona Western College in Yuma nearly two decades ago — before, in 2006, Craig became the nation’s youngest college basketball coach at 25 when he accepted a position at the College of Eastern Utah.
“It’s sad. I mean, I love the kid, and I say kid because I knew him,” Green said. “He’s been in my house. He babysat my children. I mean, I had a very personal relationship with him.”
For as long as many can remember, Craig was a die-hard athlete on and off the court, Green said. “He gets zoned in on something, and he’s all in.”
While at Arizona Western, Craig became very involved in religion, according to Green. He said the last time they talked on the phone was three years ago, but he remembers it well.
“He was quoting Bible verses to me about what he thought might be our world heading to the end of times,” Green said.
Around that same time, Craig resigned his coaching position at Midland College in Texas and began describing himself as an “Islamic jihadist,” quite a contrast from his college days when the caption under his team photo read “…has tremendous work ethic and leadership skills.”
“This is not the Chris Craig that I knew and know,” said Green.
Green said whether it’s that or something else Craig is suffering from, he just hopes he gets the help he needs.
“It’s sad that it’s happening with him, but now when it starts involving the health and welfare and well-being of other people, then it’s really, really concerning,” Green said.