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College students have many things to worry about during their years of higher learning. Many students worry about everyday things, whether they will pass a class, how they will pay for books, and dealing with roommate issues. But there is another kind of student who must worry about answering to a higher authority if they break the rules, and they are student athletes.
When a student athlete violates a rule sent by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) they are open to suspensions, restrictions, and also a ban from college athletics. Student athletes have a higher standard to live up to, and therefor live by a different code of rules.
Any school rule which they violate means an NCAA investigation. No matter how large or small, the students’ actions will be looked under a microscope.
Last year at Florida State University, Junior Quarterback Chris Rix, slept through one of his finals and was suspended by the team for violating an NCAA rule concerning class and test requirements. For a non-athlete, this would put him/her in jeopardy of failing the given class. For Rix, an added dimension comes into play. Not only does he have to worry about the class but it hinders his promising football career. At the beginning of the season, he was in the running for the Heisman Trophy, and now he is fighting for his starting position back which he lost in the middle of the season because of questions in his character.
The quarterback who took Rix’s place, Freshman Adrian McPherson, was kicked off the team and subsequently transferred to Tennessee State University because of allegations of gambling and theft. He later cut a deal with the Florida District Attorney to avoid jail time.
The sudden loss of the team’s two starting quarterbacks caused Florida State to lose in the season ending bowl game on New Year’s Day to the University of Georgia, 26-13. Florida State University has been under the microscope of the NCAA for many years for violating rules and regulations. Most of the blame for these incidents has fallen on long time head coach Bobby Bowden.
Regardless of the NCAA rules that players must follow, they also must adhere to the rules of the university which they attend. Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker has suspended for the team’s final remaining games last season because of his substance abuse problem. He entered a rehab program and his future with the team was uncertain. Only until recently did head coach John L. Smith name Smoker, a senior, the starter for the Spartan football squad.
Chris Webber, now playing for the Sacromento Kings of the NBA, has been involved in college scandal even to this day. When he was at the University of Michigan in the early 1990’s, he along with Juwan Howard and Jimmy King made up a group of players who were dubbed “The Fab Five.” They made several NCAA championship appearances, one of which was lost by Webber against North Carolina because he called a timeout when the team had none left.
Long after Webber graduated from Michigan, scandal broke out that while he was in attendance at the University, Webber received money and gifts from a booster and other people who were closely associated to the University. This is a serious NCAA rules violation and although Michigan isn’t the only school to have done this, it is one of the more notable collegiate programs. Webber adamantly denied any wrong doing.
The case went to court and subsequently, the University was forced to take down its championship banners from the early 1990’s because the team forfeited all games that Webber, and other selected players, participated in. Webber avoided jail time by pleaing to a lesser charge. These accusations scar the university and its tradition. The removal of the championship banners must bring both sadness and shame to the people who were involved in this situation.
In the most recent and probably most disturbing case of college athletes acting outside the boundries of their university’s and the civil code happened at Baylor University. Basketball player Patrick Dennehy was missing for two weeks earlier this summer. No one knew where he was until his body was stumbled upon and reported to the authorities. It took a few days for the identity of the body to be determined, but once it was, it was proven that it was in fact Dennehy. He was found with two bullet holes in his head.
The search began for the killer of Dennehy and days later police captured teammate Carlton Dotson in Maryland, halfway across the country from where the murder took place. Police suspected Dotson because he made phone calls on the victims cell phone after day the murder took place and Dotson was seen driving the victim’s SUV around campus the day Dennehy was reported missing.
Dotson now stands trial in Maryland for murder and is waiting for a hearing to see if he will be extradited back to Texas, the place of the murder, which uses the death penalty against convicted murderers. No motive has been released by the authorities. Under the weight of this high profile case, head coach Dave Bliss resigned. He allgedly told his players not to cooperate with authorities in the search for Dennehy and was accused of knowing that his players used drugs, gambled, and abused alocohol. He is still under investigation. The Univeristy of Baylor is now in a situation where they may not field a men’s basketball team this season. Because of this, players have been granted the ability to transfer to another school and not have to sit out a season because of the transfer.
Ohio State Sophomore standout running back Maurice Clarett has been suspended 6 games, but will be allowed to practice with the practice team, after he lied to authorities about the value of items that were in his stolen SUV. He is under investigation. Weeks earlier Clarett was involved in another scandal which stated he received special help from teachers to pass classes and that he took an oral midterm while other students took a written one. All this has ruined the season of one of the top backs in the nation who will undoubtedly leave for the NFL after this season and will hopefully be able to escape the turmoil which has surrounded him this season.
These incidences are only a minor look into what is wrong with college sports. Athletes are given the chance of a lifetime to do what they love to do and go to school for free. You can’t beat that. Some, however, push the limits and now have to suffer the consequences.