When CSU fans, players and coaches look back on 2006, it’s safe to say they probably won’t rank it as one of the better years in CSU varsity athletic history.
With the athletics department in economic disarray, a basketball player and football players being arrested, a sub-par football season, and even smaller issues such as the Fum’s Song debate making the news, CSU athletics was ready for a new year.
Expectations were high for 2007, with Paul Kowalcyzk, a fresh face, in charge, and teams such as the men’s basketball, swimming and track teams all expecting to make postseason runs. Even naysayers would say that 2007 couldn’t be any worse than 2006.
Then, just 12 days into the new year, four women’s basketball players were arrested for allegedly setting off a “bomb” at a teammate’s apartment.
While these arrests are not on the same page as bank fraud or being in debt, this was not how the year was meant to start for Ram fans.
Whether or not the four players who are serving indefinite suspensions will be the scapegoats for this, one thing that is certain is that booting four women off a team for a prank will not solve the problems of the athletics department.
That being said, it is worth asking why CSU athletes are getting arrested at a sharper clip than ever before. The most likely answer is that it is a pure coincidence, but that doesn’t mean student-athletes shouldn’t do some personal reflection.
The athletics department also needs to develop a new culture. Sweeping changes may not be needed, but even the little things like the advice given to athletes by the school could be changed.
In the student-athlete’s handbook, which is given to all varsity athletes at CSU, it states that athletes should “take it upon (themselves) to make good choices. In the decision making process, you always have choices. Be responsible for your actions.”
This seems straightforward enough, but is nowhere near as direct and/or clear as it should be. The handbook also never mentions what happens to a player if arrested. The athletics department may need to acknowledge that arrests happen and have a plan in place when they do.
When it comes down to it, fans should look at this for what it was – a prank. But whenever national media such as ESPN or CBS Sportsline start covering CSU for bank fraud or chemical bombs and not the scores, all 24,670 students end up looking bad.
So the next time any student-athlete tries to invite a fellow player to “detonate” a bomb, they should just blow them off.
Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself.
Sports Editor Mike Donovan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.