Petition 'elevates athletes' in status


I read an article in the Jan. 26 issue of the Wildcat that made me shudder in horror. It seems a "local businessman" is attempting to petition the Tucson community to allow Joseph Blair to continue to play basketball despite the fact that Mr. Blair has b een deemed as academically ineligible. I hope that Mr. Hernando Solis, the businessman organizing this petition, realizes the consequences of his actions. What he is asking you, the general public, to do is send a message to the Arizona Board of Regents, the other schools of the Pacific-10 Conference, and other NCAA schools. But before you agree to send this message, listen to what it actually says.

It says that he wants everyone to know that academics are not the reason for a student to be on this campus. He wants you to state that, because Mr. Blair "contributes to the community," all rules should be bent concerning standards of excellence in athle tics and academics. But I submit that this is not about community service, but allowing Mr. Blair to help the UA Basketball program win more games.

Mr. Solis wants 100,000-300,000 of you to say Mr. Blair deserves a second chance. Let me ask you this: how many organizations on this campus exist to serve the community? I don't know the exact number of service organizations here, but I know that if one if their members were having academic difficulties, Mr. Solis wouldn't be found petitioning the community to allow them to continue to serve. Most organizations on this campus have some kind of academic standard that they maintain without question. But Mr . Solis wants athletics to not be one of those organizations.

And what about Mr. Blair's future? Did Mr. Solis think of that? If Mr. Blair goes to the NBA, makes his millions, then fine...he was lucky. But if not, he will graduate with a GPA that will make it almost impossible to find a decent job.

So, I ask this of all of you: when Mr. Solis comes knocking on your door, don't sign his petition. Mr. Blair has the ability to petition his grade, allow him to do so. Mr. Blair has asked that he be given the same treatment as other students here. Well, h ere is the perfect time to tell all those watching that he is NO different than the rest of us. No one would be knocking on doors for us trying to get us out of academic trouble, don't let Mr. Solis do it either. Every student on this campus deserves the same treatment. By signing that petition, you elevate the status of athletes here to something more than what they are€just students like you and I.

By Bret Filipek
Office Assistant Senior, University of Arizona
Northern Arizona University Graduate