Monday, December 15, 1987 - 4:00 PM
Brad Peterson, a 60-year-old male, is the head coach for the Ole Miss men’s basketball team. The interview was conducted at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness’s knowledge and consent.
- Detective Terry Nelson
- Brad Peterson
Detective Nelson: Thanks for coming in, Coach. Before we get started, would you state your name and address for the record please?
Brad Peterson: Brad Peterson. 1036 Augusta Drive. Oxford.
Detective Nelson: So you knew Kevin Gilmore.
Brad Peterson: I know all my players. Have you figured out yet what happened to him?
Detective Nelson: We're still investigating his death. When was the last time you saw him?
Brad Peterson: Thursday at practice. I had him running passing drills because I was disappointed by his performance against Arkansas.
Detective Nelson: You talked with him that day?
Brad Peterson: Sure. I don't believe a head coach should be sitting on the sidelines or back in his office. I mean, as long as I'm head coach, this is my team, and I'm calling the shots.
Detective Nelson: How did Kevin seem that day?
Brad Peterson: He knew I was disappointed.
Detective Nelson: And because of that, he was ... how?
Brad Peterson: Determined to make me happy. You got to understand, these boys are away from their father pretty much for the very first time. To call me a father figure, that'd be an understatement.
Detective Nelson: Would Kevin come to you with his problems?
Brad Peterson: I'd go to him if I saw his problems were interfering with the game. I mean, these kids are out from under their parents/ I mean, they're full of piss and vinegar. They think they can do anything. They think they're immortal. I teach them to fall and not get hurt.
Detective Nelson: What kind of problems was Kevin experiencing?
Brad Peterson: I don't know. And excuse me if I sound heartless, but I don't care. Kevin had problems. They all have problems. Problems are a fact of life. I go to the players that had problems not because I can make their problems go away, but it was my job to teach them how to deal with their problems. I would teach them how to play through their problems because they were going to have to face their problems until the day they died. You master your problems or your problems master you.
Detective Nelson: How about the other coaches? Might Kevin have talked to one of them?
Brad Peterson: Those coaches do what I tell them. I'm not running a democracy out there. I'm running a basketball team.
Detective Nelson: Is that why you didn't want us talking with the other coaches?
Brad Peterson: I know how you people operate. Divide. Conquer. Stir things up. Set people apart to see what develops. You're not breaking up my coaching staff to satisfy your curiosity.
Detective Nelson: One of your players died under suspicious circumstances. We're not conducting these investigations to satisfy our curiosity. We're just trying to put a killer behind bars before someone else dies.
Brad Peterson: So maybe I misspoke. The fact remains, Kevin did not open up to any of my other coaches. I talked to them as soon as I heard what happened. Just in case.
Detective Nelson: So you admit that there is a possibility that Kevin told one of your coaches something he didn't tell you.
Brad Peterson: No. I spoke to them to make sure I didn't miss anything, and they assured me that I hadn't.
Detective Nelson: How about his teammates? Who else would Kevin have confided in?
Brad Peterson: One of them. None of them. All of them. You played basketball?
Detective Nelson: Just pick-up games.
Brad Peterson: So, basketball. A good coach brings out the best in their players, finds their strengths, works on their weaknesses, but that's not enough. I mean, by all means, yes, develop their strengths and weaknesses, but you can't get caught up in the individual talents of your players or you're going to have a bunch of individuals out there playing. Look, whether it's Kevin or Jason out there playing on the court, they need to play the same. They could get hurt, or they might get ejected from a game, but they gotta be able to play as if there isn't somebody different out there playing. There's no time to make adjusts in basketball.
Detective Nelson: How did the team feel about Kevin's death?
Brad Peterson: They did what they thought Kevin would want them to do. Played ball.
Detective Nelson: Were you aware of Kevin's medical conditions?
Brad Peterson: I'm head coach. I'm supposed to be able to know what--everything about that young man.
Detective Nelson: Then you must have some idea of who wanted to kill Kevin.
Brad Peterson: I would like a moment to collect myself.
Detective Nelson: Take your time.
Brad Peterson: One of my boys is dead, and I blame myself for not seeing that coming. Granted, maybe Kevin did get killed by some random stranger, but it still leaves a stirring knot in my stomach.
Detective Nelson: Do you believe Kevin was just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Do you think that it was just blind chance that Kevin was the person killed that night?
Brad Peterson: I don't believe in random events. I mean, you just don't put a ball in a basket. You make plays. If you win, you make a good choice of a play. If you lose, you made a bad one. I mean, a part of me would be relieved if there was no way that I saw this coming, but I don't believe that to be true. I mean, you've talked to my other players, haven't you?
Detective Nelson: What do you know about Kevin's relationship with his other teammates?
Brad Peterson: If you would've asked me that a week ago, I would have said they were a team. I mean, they would've killed to protect each other. Granted, despite all my efforts, there were issues. I mean, the issues didn't show up on the court, neither at practice nor at a game. And again, I ask you. You've talked to my other players, haven't you?.
Detective Nelson: I wondered why you allowed us to speak with them but not with your other coaches.
Brad Peterson: Well, I thought that would help you. Has it?
Detective Nelson: It's still too early to know for certain.
Brad Peterson: You can say that again.
Detective Nelson: Do you know Kevin's girlfriend?
Brad Peterson: She was just somebody in the stands.
Detective Nelson: How much did you know about Kevin's work situation?
Brad Peterson: Well, he worked. I mean, all them boys worked. His work didn't interfere with his game, and I didn't hear that his game interfered with his job.
Detective Nelson: Could Kevin have gone pro?
Brad Peterson: I don't think so. He didn't have that raw hunger to go the distance. I mean, don't get me wrong. I mean, he was a great basketball player, but that was it.
Detective Nelson: How do you think he died?
Brad Peterson: Trying to find his way through a hole, a player positioned himself for a pass. I mean, he would have gone down fighting.
Detective Nelson: Thank you for your time, Coach Peterson. Now that we've spoken, I hope you'll allow us to talk to the other coaches. In the meantime, if anything comes to you, please give us a call.
Brad Peterson: I will. What happened to Kevin, he didn't deserve it.
Interview ended: 4:14 PM