Staff Editorial: Athletes under scrutiny

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February 27, 2007

1:58 PM

In today’s issue, a feature story appears on the front page that addresses policy violations and the results of infractions by student athletes at the College. While some readers, particularly non-athletes, may be somewhat alarmed at certain restrictions imposed by coaches and the sanctions that can accompany violation of these rules, the policies are generally sensible and beneficial to all parties concerned.

p. Many athletes come to the College on partial scholarships because of their athletic abilities. Consequently, they have an extra responsibility to their programs to ensure that their behavior does not result in negative consequences for themselves or their teams. It should certainly be pointed out that these rules and regulations, often regarding drinking and other social scenarios, can be quite difficult for student athletes, most of whom live a life that consists of strenuous practice and workout schedules.

p. Despite of these rigorous schedules, scholar athletes must still use common sense in their choices. Players know what is expected of them in regard to alcohol consumption and other behaviors, particularly during their respective seasons. Women’s track and field Head Coach Kathy Newberry has stipulated for her team that no player can consume more than two drinks on a single occasion and may not drink within 12 hours of a team obligation. This is by no means an unreasonable request given the understood responsibilities of student athletes and alcohol’s effect on athletic performance.

p. One of the most interesting sides of this debate centers on the issue of athletes who post pictures and information on Facebook. Some believe that the coaching staff members of various teams track their players’ Facebook accounts to search for inappropriate behavior, an assertion that coaches deny. Whether or not this is the case, student athletes must realize, just as any student who applies for a job or anything else of significance to his or her future, that privacy cannot be expected on a public forum such as Facebook.

p. The thought of coaches intentionally tracking their players online is quite disturbing, one would not be completely justified in saying their privacy is being invaded, particularly since the main purpose of Facebook is online social interaction, and some athletes are Facebook friends with assistant coaches.

p. A more accurate critique of the College’s attitude toward its athletes would address the need for clearer explanations of consequences for student athletes found to be in violation of team policy. In the case of the men’s track and field team, players understand the policy but are unclear as to the potential ramifications if they break the rules. Particularly here at the College, where guidelines, policy and punishments are so well defined by the honor and judicial councils, specific rules and consequences should be implemented and passed on to student athletes in order to grant the same courtesy.

p. The College’s graduation rate of 89 percent for student athletes is tied for fifth in the nation among Division I schools — a truly remarkable accomplishment. Moving forward, our athletes must continue to serve the College and perform on the field, but they also must show maturity and, at times, restraint off the field.

p. Likewise, the administration, the athletic department and the coaches must understand that these athletes are also students. Like all students, they deserve the respect and basic right of just and well-defined policies. Improvements and more honest discourse on both sides will lead to healthier, more productive athletic programs that will continue to serve and represent the College.

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