The Missouri athletic department has endured quite a lot this school year. We, as fans, have experienced the exciting moments as the volleyball team captured the school’s first Southeastern Conference crown and as the football team came within a game of playing in the national championship in just its second season in the SEC. We watched as Michael Sam made his announcement and stood by our fellow Tiger the whole way.
We’ve also seen the ugly side, as off-the-field issues piled up, especially as of late. Student-athletes Dorial Green-Beckham, Wes Clark, Shane Rector, Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert were all arrested in drug-related incidents this year. Zach Price, a transfer on the men’s basketball team, was arrested for second- and third-degree assault last week. Brandon Orr, an assistant wrestling coach, was arrested for public intoxication in late March.
The list could continue, but the point is that Mizzou Athletics has been under scrutiny, and something had to be done to clean up not just the football and basketball programs but Mizzou Athletics as a whole. Any time an athlete or coach goes somewhere, they represent themselves, their team and most importantly their school. It is unacceptable for any player or coach to be in a situation that negatively represents MU.
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden spoke with student-athletes this past week. He talked about how the logo never comes off, and I couldn’t agree more. These student-athletes and coaches are supposed to be role models for younger individuals, and they have to understand when they’re in the spotlight, they’re under a microscope at all times.
That’s certainly a lot to handle for some of these students who aren’t even 21 years old, so of course they’re going to make mistakes. These kids are under pressure to perform with flying colors on and off the field, and the expectations are demanding. So when you make a mistake, you learn from it.
But after the most recent incidents with Price and Green-Beckham, it was time for change. Price’s arrest and Green-Beckham’s latest fiasco were the tipping point for Alden and his staff. I’m sure the choice to dismiss both players wasn’t an easy one, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.
The message had to be sent that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated, no matter the case. I think athletic programs often turn the other cheek when incidents involving a star player occur, and Mizzou Athletics is 100 percent guilty of this, too. No one likes dealing with the negative publicity, but with the recent decision, Mizzou Athletics is certainly moving in the right direction.
The choice to dismiss Green-Beckham and Price will benefit both these players and the university alike. These guys will get a second chance and a fresh start somewhere else, which is what they deserve. We have no clue what these guys have been through or experienced in their lifetimes, and it’s not our place to judge them for their faults.
I wish Green-Beckham and Price the best as their careers move forward and hope they can learn from their actions and become better men in the end. It would have been great to watch Green-Beckham shred defensive backs or have Price solidify an otherwise subpar defense, but no one player defines the success or failure of a team. The Missouri football and basketball teams, I assure you, will be just fine.
Price might not have had a huge impact on the basketball team, but Green-Beckham’s shoes will certainly be hard to fill. Guys like Bud Sasser and Darius White will have to step up in his absence, and quarterback Maty Mauk will need to do the same.
But I would much rather see Mizzou sacrifice a few wins during the regular season than watch them sacrifice the overall integrity of a program.