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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Editorial: Mizzou Athletics must increase accountability

The list of incidents and arrests continues to grow, and it’s becoming a trend.

April 2, 2014

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Maneater editorial board.

Run-ins with the law for Mizzou Athletics affiliates are above par this year.

Last week, after an NCAA wrestling tournament win, Brandon Orr, a graduate student and Mizzou Athletics team sports psychologist, was arrested for public intoxication in a Sheraton Hotel lobby. The police report stated that there was a lobby party that got a bit rowdy, and when the police showed up, Orr refused to return to his hotel room. This isn’t the first arrest of a person affiliated with Mizzou Athletics this school year.

In September 2013, a book titled “The System” was released. It detailed sexual assaults of tutors in Mizzou Athletics’ “Total Person Program.” On Jan. 11, Dorial Green-Beckham was arrested for possession of marijuana. On Jan. 23, Levi Copelin was arrested for peace disturbance in the ID office in The Mizzou Store. On Jan. 29, the Sasha Menu Courey story broke on Outside the Lines and caused ripples in the MU and athletic community across the nation. On March 17, Shane Rector, Wes Clark, Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert were arrested for marijuana possession. On March 10, Tony Criswell’s rental late fees and attorney’s fees, which registered in the thousands, came to light. And, most recently, the incident with Brandon Orr. We see a trend.

There is plenty of evidence that a number of transgressions have occurred on the part of student athletes and sports staff. These are just the ones that have come to light most recently. Mizzou Athletics needs to hold its athletes and staff more accountable, and this accountability takes different forms. Don’t get us wrong, there is fault on the parts of both student athletes and the athletic department.

Student athletes, remember that you are public figures who represent MU. When you make a bad choice, MU and Mizzou Athletics get a bad reputation. You aren’t above the law, and neither are we. Remember that whether or not you’re wearing a “Mizzou” jersey, your actions still affect the university.

Mizzou Athletics has a moniker called “#MizzouMade” used to showcase the best and brightest of Tiger sports, namely football. #MizzouMade is about claiming stake on the greats that got their start on Faurot Field or in Mizzou Arena. Michael Sam was #MizzouMade. Phil Pressey was #MizzouMade. The football player that gets caught for drunk driving, well, he’s #MizzouMade, too. All those associated with the athletic department are #MizzouMade, and Mizzou Athletics needs to claim all their actions, both good and bad.

Mizzou Athletics, it’s your job to protect your athletes and that means holding them accountable. It’s great that Mizzou Athletics works hard to build up student athletes with methods such as the “Total Person” tutoring program. It’s great that they’re whole people and such, but what happens when things go awry? A one-game suspension for marijuana possession seems like just a slap on the wrist, and chastisement isn’t really holding anyone accountable.

Speaking of holding people accountable, Mike Alden, where art thou? All the incidents that have happened this school year are under your leadership, yet we haven’t heard a peep from you. We’d also like to point out that Alden is a finalist for the Sports Business Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year. We suspect that it’s because of the success of the football program this year, volleyball’s undefeated regular season, a third consecutive wrestling conference win and much more athletic success. This is what a successful athletic program looks like on the scoreboard and on the trophy shelf, but the police record shows Mizzou Athletics, to use NCAA wording, “lacks institutional control.”

All of Mizzou Athletics is held to a higher standard. This is evident when DGB’s marijuana possession makes the news, and “the kid who got caught in the dorm with weed last night” doesn’t. Student athletes are public figures and with that comes a bit of special treatment. This, undoubtedly, is due to the huge college athletics industry and the financial emphasis placed on it. When a player who sports a Mizzou jersey only gets suspended for one game after an arrest, what does that say to the larger community about how seriously Mizzou Athletics takes incidents like those that have taken place this school year? It’s a slippery slope.

Mizzou Athletics has the ability to reel in its players, and holding all student athletes to the same standard is a major part of that. Whether it’s DGB or a freshman on the track team, all Mizzou athletes should be held accountable in the same way. The penalty for Green-Beckham shouldn’t be less of a punishment that a lesser known athlete would face for the same offense. And at that, penalties need to be more of a deterrent. If players feared a heavy, multi-game suspension, there might not be a rising crime problem.

Most importantly, we’d like to see transparency going forward. Instead of vague media statements, tell us how student athlete conduct works and what type of penalty the athlete will receive. Without this, for all we know, incidents could be swept under the rug, and we’d hate to see what those dust bunnies (monsters) will look like in a few years.

Mizzou Athletics, the ball’s in your court.

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