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ISSUE 119 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/21/2006

Duke disappoints fans

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor

Friday, April 21, 2006

As an avid sports fan, I can'’t help but point out the need to come to terms with the disastrous state of collegiate athletes; namely the existence of hypocrisy in the collegiate ranks. The truth must be told:– the glaring deficiencies in character of some of these big-time “student” athletes are extremely disturbing.

The most recent scenario involves Division-I Duke University’'s men’'s lacrosse team. According to the allegations, an alcohol-fueled party involving most of the team'’s 47 players on March 13 led to the rape of an exotic dancer, paid $400 for her services, at the players'’ residence. The accusations state that the woman was gang-raped, sodomized and choked by three members of the team.

The players are charged with first-degree forcible rape, common law robbery, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault and felonious strangulation. Conviction of these charges would result in a minimum sentence of 16 to 20 years.

Perhaps you remember the situation at the University of Colorado with its football team, when a report came to light that the team was using sex and alcohol to lure recruits to the school. The controversy arose when reports surfaced about a recruiting party where alcohol was involved, in which two UC students said they were sexually assaulted and raped at the party.

Then there was Katie Hnida, the talented female kicker on the Colorado team who came forward to say that she was repeatedly harassed by her teammates. She was also subjected to numerous rape attempts.

Former Colorado head coach Gary Barnett'‘s response garnered a warranted uproar. “"It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful,”" Barnett said. “"Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. Okay? There'’s no other way to say it.”"

Understand the situation: A coach, to cover his own self-mutilated behind, warrants rape and other forms of harassment because of a player’'s ability?

Hnida may have been the worst kicker in the history of college football (which would be an outrageous claim), but the last time I checked, there is not a direct correlation between being a victim of constant abuse with the ability to kick a football through the uprights.

The most recent allegations at Duke follow the same pattern. There is a double-standard for collegiate athletes, one that states that talent on the field justifies an easy way off the field. On Tuesday, two players were arrested in connection with the case.

Both of these examples of athletes’' immorality suggest that these athletes have always been permitted to misbehave because they are not looked upon as students, but rather are glorified as celebrities.

These athletes have so much celebrity in them that their education is not only handed to them on a plate, but it is fed to them as if they were newborns gnawing Gerber baby food. Effortless. We have heard of far too many cases of players remaining eligible because of their athletic prestige. Many institutions offer majors or specializations in an athlete’s' respective sport. Put that on a resume: – “I majored in football at the University of Colorado, and sexually harassed women day in and day out! Hire me!”

Also note that in both of these cases, and in 99.9 percent of similar controversies, alcohol is not only involved, but is the main culprit.

Barnett claimed that he was unaware of any such behavior. Please. A coach spends 10 hours a day with his players, he hears things. The fact that nothing was done, even at the first sign of underage drinking, is disturbing. If an athlete is suspended indefinitely at the first sign of indecent, dangerous or illegal activity, decency in the college ranks might not be far behind.

The denials of all the problems present in collegiate athletics are piling up like leaves on an October afternoon. The real issue is the fact that upper echelons just don'’t see that pattern: alcohol, celebrity image and the common credence that collegiate athletes are foreign diplomats immune from the law.

Sports Editor Matt Tiano is a first year from Northfield, Minn. He is a C.I.S. major.

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