by Kent Sterling
Cripes. Can’t somebody just talk without evoking the kind of pedantic legalese bureaucrats habitually use to cover their asses?
Jackson Boyer, a walk-on freshman receiver for his hometown’s University of North Carolina’s football team, suffered a concussion from which he is still recovering because of an incident that resulted in the suspension of cornerbacks Desmond Lawrence, Brian Walker, M.J. Stewart, and back-up at the ‘Ram’ position Donnie Miles.
A relentless torrent of idiocy rains down upon college campuses everywhere, so the report of an episode resulting in a suspension is no surprise, nor would it even bear mention if not for the nauseating self-serving drivel issued by the university as explanation.
Although school officials asserting legal claptrap defending school policies have not admitted the suspensions were directly linked to the incident, there have been numerous reports that they were.
This statement was released under head coach Larry Fedora’s name, “We hold our players accountable for their actions at all times. These players did not meet the high expectations we have for them as members of our program and have been disciplined accordingly. They will not play on Saturday or be on the sideline with their teammates.”
Well, that’s just wonderful, and I’m sure Jackson Boyer feels much better as a result. His recovery will be enhanced greatly by those magical words. Too bad the four cretins who are responsible for inflicting the injury didn’t realize any of that prior to whatever transpired to cause Boyer’s brain injury.
You want to know why most schools schedule cupcakes in Week One (UNC plays Liberty Saturday)? Because players have eight months before the opener they can screw up, and suspended meaningful players prior to a game that matters gets coaches fired.
Here’s an especially vague and noncommittal statement from UNC assistant athletic director for communications Kevin Best, “We are aware of an incident involving members of the UNC football team that took place earlier this month. We take this allegation seriously and the University is conducting a thorough review.”
Boy, UNC really is serious about putting a stop to all hazing! Conducting a thorough review? Well, thank goodness. Now, we can all rest easy. Boyer’s parents can finally get a good night’s sleep.
How about UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham, who apparently can’t pass up an opportunity to both pat his department on the back while absolving all involved for this outlier of an event, “I think our student-athletes do a great job. We have 800 who participate in intercollegiate athletics, and from time to time, we all make mistakes. When we do, we hold each other accountable.”
Oh, because most of the athletes at UNC manage to not cause a brain injury in a teammate, people questioning UNC because of this incident aren’t seeing the big picture. Cunningham wants critics and the media to take a more global view of his department, and not focus on Boyer, or the bizarre track record of academic fraud in the department he oversees.
That’s like explaining racism as being okay because it was good for the white majority.
Finally, there is the flotsam and jetsam in the policy provided Yahoo! Sports by the UNC Office of the Dean of Students:
“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to fostering organizations that provide a positive and safe environment for new and existing members. To that end, UNC expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk. The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance defines hazing as action, ‘that causes or permits an individual, with or without consent, to engage in activities that subject that individual or others to risks of physical injury, mental distress, or personal indignities of a highly offensive nature, in connection with recruitment, initiation, or continued membership in a society, fraternity or sorority, club, or similar organized group, whether or not recognized by the University.'”
That’s the kind of blather created and vetted in rooms filled with lawyers employed to keep an organization from being sued. It has nothing to do with the right thing being done. To hell with reason, decency, and leadership. Build a wall of liability-dodging phrasing so high that it can’t be cleared, and the job is well done.
Anyone who was unclear as to whether universities exist for the students or the administrators got a heavy dose of self-righteousness as their answer.