by Kent Sterling
Two games. That’s it. Two games.
One of the most recognizable students at Indiana University allegedly gets hammered, makes the irreconcilably stupid and irresponsible decision to get behind the wheel of a car, and gets arrested. The extent of the punishment we know about amounts to a two-game suspension.
Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean had a chance to carve a line in the hardwood, and teach his team that playing for Indiana is a privilege. He had a chance to show the entire student body in Bloomington that getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking heavily is patently unacceptable – even once.
Crean passed on that opportunity by reinstating seldom used forward Hanner Mosquiera-Perea only 11 days after announcing his indefinite suspension for being arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Mosquera-Perea was booked at 4:45 a.m. Friday, February 14th in Bloomington with a blood alcohol level of .15, almost twice the legal limit.
By foregoing the opportunity to teach through levying the ultimate tax against Mosquera-Perea, Crean has opened himself up for criticism or worse should there be a repeat performance by anyone on the team. You know the saying – “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
The Hoosier program under Crean has been free of publicized discipline issues, so he has earned some latitude, but he has chosen this episode to push all those chips into the middle of the table on behalf of a 20-year-old who not only showed total indifference for the safety of others when he drove after drinking, but failed to care enough about the program or teammates to stay sober during a 72-hour period between very important games – both losses.
Crean chose the welfare of the individual over the good of the whole. Maybe it would be unfair to tell a kid to pack his bags after a single mistake, but giving his team and everyone who follows Indiana the benefit of knowing that all it takes is one idiotic decision to ruin a life would have been a great teaching moment.
The statement released by Indiana University on behalf of Crean reads, “Hanner is going to be paying a price in the office of the courts and with the Dean’s office. He also is going to continue to be disciplined inside of our program with no end in sight to that. Hanner has done everything and more than what has been expected of him since the incident and we are allowing him to be available for competition beginning tonight.”
Not sure what everything and more over the course of 11 whole days might have been, but it pales in comparison to the lesson that would have been indelibly instilled in those near the program through requiring that Mosquiera-Perea continue his education and playing career elsewhere.
College is a place where soon-to-be adults learn what behaviors as an adult are acceptable by making hopefully painless mistakes, and that learning occurs through the application of harsh consequences. People out here in the adult world get fired for being arrested on drunk driving charges. It happens all the time. Bosses don’t make kids run steps, write sentences, or shoot free throws for hours.
There is a brief meeting with the boss and an HR specialist, and the employee is out on the street. That’s real life, not some cocoon where kids are instructed rather than removed.
How many people at IU have to die due to binge drinking before someone wakes up and smells the damn coffee? Talk to the parents of Lauren Spierer. Talk to the parents of Rachael Fiege. Only through good fortune was Mosquera-Perea’s stupidity not paid for by the death or injury of someone else in Bloomington with the bad luck to be driving or walking near him.
Crean had a chance to bring the hammer down on a kid who deserved it, and he decided not to. That’s his right as the leader of the program, but if the discipline being meted out on Mosquiera-Perea shows itself to be insufficient through an encore, then the irresponsible party is Crean and the next punishment should be his.