by Kent Sterling
Before writing anything else – prayers, good thoughts, and hopes for a speedy recovery to IU basketball player Devin Davis, who is in serious condition at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. With that most important thought out of the way, let’s deal with what appears to be a repeated issue with the Indiana Basketball program.
Emmitt Holt is a freshman basketball player at Indiana, and reports are that Holt was driving the car that hit Davis, causing his injuries. And according to campus reports, he had a blood alcohol content of .025 when the incident occurred. Holt was cited for illegal consumption and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher.
This is the fourth alcohol related arrest or incident for a basketball team with 15 members in the last nine months. That’s four too many.
Just what the hell is going on down in Bloomington, and at what point is Tom Crean going to be held accountable for leading a program where this kind of behavior is tolerated?
In February, Hanner Mosquera-Perea was arrested for drunk driving and was suspended for all of two games. In April, Yogi Ferrell and Stanford Robinson were both arrested for trying to use fake IDs to gain entry to Kilroy’s Sports Bar. Now, not only has a freshman been cited for alcohol related violations, but his teammate is lying in a hospital.
Clearly and sadly, whatever consequence Crean meted out as the result of Mosquera-Perea, Ferrell, and Robinson’s idiocy had no effect on the behavior of the players he is employed to mentor and coach through their college years.
Coaches have a responsibility to focus on a variety of issues as student-athletes move through the awkward and dangerous latter stages of their adolescence. Judging by the level at which Indiana basketball players are committing alcohol related crimes, Crean has abrogated his duty in that narrow but extremely important regard.
Claiming players are responsible for their behavior works once and maybe twice, but for the third incident in less than a year, the leader of the program becomes accountable.
This is no different than a manager in business being held responsible for the repeated failures of his staff. Once, okay, bad things happen. Twice, maybe it’s a trend and maybe not. Three? The pattern of disobedience undoubtedly leads to the conclusion that leadership is ineffective.
When kids are arrested, that’s one thing. It’s embarrassing and provides a platform to issue a consequence that teaches a lesson that will last for the perpetrator and his peers. Obviously, peers weren’t paying close attention in February or April.
This one is on Crean, and a young man is in serious condition because of it.
A BAC of .025 means Holt drank a beer or maybe two, and what’s the big deal? Well, society says it’s enough of a problem that there is a law against it.
If I’m the father of a recruit interested in playing basketball at Indiana, the Hoosiers are coming off that list because of the pattern of misbehavior over the past nine months – and who knows how long before that.
The individual crimes would not be that big an issue, but collectively they reveal a lack of decisive action by leadership that might serve as a reasonable disincentive.
Grades have been good. Degrees have been earned. Lack of success on the floor has been an irritant. Recruiting has been uneven. I can live with all of that because a coach is employed primarily to safely usher kids in his care to a meaningful degree. What happened last night is endemic of a failure to provide a framework of rules and discipline that causes young men to make good decisions.