What's the Verdict on New OSU Athletic Policy?

Trey Smith

We've all heard or seen the reports before: A student-athlete is charged with a crime and yet seems to be in uniform for the big game.  I must admit I've often suffered from the all too typical knee-jerk reaction -- "There going to let the SOB play?!"

On Friday, OSU Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis released to the media a draft version of his school's new discipline policy.  On the heels of several highly publicized criminal allegations against OSU football players, the rules will be much harsher than in the past and may apply retroactively. 

According to an article in the Corvallis Gazette-Times,

"We are not going to backtrack in this," De Carolis said. "I don't expect any retractions. It's a minimum (punishment level). I'd like to hear what the state Legislature has to say, and what other people have to say. I doubt anyone will say this is too tough. If there are any more changes, it might be more severe."

For minor offenses such as citations and misdemeanors, the act of being charged will set the disciplinary policy in motion.  Depending on several criteria, a student athlete will be barred from participation in 10% of games or more.

If the charge rises to the level of a felony or indictment, the student-athlete will be suspended until which time they are cleared. 

Is this genuinely fair?  I always thought we lived in a nation in which a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Yet, under this new policy, a student-athlete will be punished regardless of whether or not they are indeed ever found guilty.

Imagine if this policy applied across the board to people from all walks of life!  Would you think it was fair if you were suspended from work without pay or school without an excused absence merely because you were charged with a crime?  I know it wouldn't sit well with me.

What happens if the police or prosecutor later discovers new evidence that exonerates the student-athlete?  What happens if the case goes to court, but the judge or jury finds the student-athlete innocent?

How is OSU going to repay the student-athlete -- particularly a senior in the last year of eligibility -- for lost time away from their team?  Are they merely going to say, "Gosh darn, we're awful sorry?"

It's a given that our society often places far too much emphasis on athletic endeavors.  Student-athletes, just like the rest of us, have a responsibility to themselves, their families and their educational institution to try to be upstanding citizens.

Yet, while it's certainly true that many student-athletes don't take this responsibility as seriously as they should, they shouldn't be singled out by a policy that runs counter to American legal principles. In my opinion, the new OSU athletic discipline policy is grossly unfair.

What do you think?

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    I'd like to know if this new policy also applies to other extracurricular endeavors. If a student actor gets busted prior to the spring musical, will they be suspended from 10% of performances? If a student senator gets busted, will they be suspended from 10% of student government meetings?

    I'm against special treatment for student-athletes, but I think it cuts both ways.

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    I'm (gasp) not even a sports fan (other than baseball, really) and these rules seem ridiculous. Well said, Trey, innocent until proven guilty.

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