Pool parties, fights, stabbings, canned athletic directors and a $200 million on-campus stadium. What a year.
This past year has been a rollercoaster ride for the athletic department, and the football program especially, full of sharp left turns and gut-wrenching drops.
An organization once known for academic excellence and honesty is now more closely associated with dysfunction and crisis management. The past nine months have brought into question the integrity of this university and its athletic program, creating uncertainty as to where weâ€™re headed.
Too often the actions of a few shape the perception of the many, and this is exactly whatâ€™s happening to CSU, but itâ€™s not who we are or who weâ€™ll be.
Nine months of turmoil canâ€™t undo a tradition of high moral standing. CSU has rarely been linked with discipline issues, and, in fact, nothing has skewed the image of Rams athletics so much since former football coach Earle Bruce left after controversy over abusing players.
Unlike Bruceâ€™s allegations, CSUâ€™s problems arenâ€™t coming from leadership.
Donâ€™t blame new football coach Jim McElwain for the actions of his players. Heâ€™s only just arrived and has had less than a month to gets hands on with this team. McElwain chose as severe a penalty as he could at this time, suspending the three accused players, preventing them from any football-related activity.
McElwain didnâ€™t recruit those players and doesnâ€™t have any real relationship with them at this point, making his judgement much more objective. Heâ€™s voiced his concern for the allegations, acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and accepted responsibility for making sure nothing like this happens again.
â€œThese are actions that are not indicative of this program, of this university,â€ McElwain said. â€œThere are a lot of really good kids in this program. A lot of good kids that represent our university, that represent our family. I donâ€™t want them to get lost in this.â€
The actions of these three football players, who make up just 2.5 percent of the team, donâ€™t reflect the quality of character the team possesses. Sure, athletes have a greater responsibility to represent their school, but there are far more stories of community advancement on this roster than those of its embarrassment.
There are people who would use this incident and those before as reasons to take away the possibility of a new on-campus stadium. Proof that the athletic department doesnâ€™t deserve to be rewarded for losing control.
This connection is unfounded and unfair. CSU has consistently graduated a high percentage of its athletes, among the top institutions in the country. The department has never committed a major NCAA infraction, a rarity in todayâ€™s college athletics landscape.
Donâ€™t let the actions of 2.5 percent take away from all those who come after them. There is no history of these issues occurring on a regular basis nor any reason to believe they will. Letâ€™s not condemn an entire organization on a prisoner-of-the-moment reaction.
People care so much about this story because itâ€™s not the norm at CSU. Itâ€™s shocking, and things you donâ€™t expect hurt the worst. Let this be a lesson on how easily a reputation can be changed. A reminder that all decisions have consequences.
CSUâ€™s athletic department looks bad now, nobodyâ€™s denying that, but letâ€™s all take a step back.
Itâ€™s been a terrible nine month stretch, but itâ€™s not a trend.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.