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Editorial: Tomey must disclose incident details

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
August 27, 1999

The alleged theft committed by members of the UA football team is not a earth-shattering scandal by any means.

A CatCard office worker reported that a group of football players approached him, took $20 in $1 bills out of his hands and said, "give us a couple of bucks...we bring millions to the university."

Essentially, the whole issue comes down to immaturity, apparent petty thievery and enlarged egos.

It's a group of still-growing boys trying to show a crowd of fellow freshmen that they're the big, tough football players.

This incident is the equivalent of a grade-school bully taking the little kid's lunch money.

Yet Athletic department officials have decided that full disclosure of the incident's details is impossible.

For two days, police and athletics officials hid behind the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, saying the players' names could not be released. UAPD went so far as to say that an investigation revolving around $20 could be compromised if the names were made public.

And this week, head football coach Dick Tomey let loose with the most eyebrow-raising comment to come from that department in some time.

"We have duly reamed those guys out and they all know how we feel about it," Tomey said. "It's a dumb thing - dumb."

With that statement, Tomey indicted his players - plain and simple.

And then he told them to keep their mouths shut.

Despite the fact that the athletes were named on CNN.com, the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, Tomey gagged the players, not allowing them to defend themselves.

Last night, however, Tomey lifted the gag order on freshman Clay Hardt after he requested the opportunity to publicly exonerate himself.

Hardt told his side of the story, and he's absolutely entitled to do so.

Yet other players, like high-profile freshman athlete Bobby Wade, remain on the list of investigative leads. Their names have circulated around the nation, and the public has been left to assume whatever they wish.

For Tomey, one solution remains: come clean.

Tell this university that some of his players stole the money. Explain that they acted irresponsibly and jeopardized their credibility. Let them take the microphone, confess to their actions and apologize to the CatCard employee.

Bench them for a game and show the nation that the University of Arizona does not tolerate irresponsibility and arrogance from its athletes.

Moreover, with the season-opening Penn State game only hours away, lift the burden from this team. Allow them to play without a cloud hanging over their heads.

Everyone should be entitled to defend themselves and clear their names.

Forced silence makes that impossible.

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