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Editorial: Football program makes unethical behavior norm

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 5, 1999
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Too often, athleticism is glorified to the point that it becomes devoid of ethics.

Too often has University of Arizona football coach Dick Tomey let repulsive behavior among his team members slide, allowing the football team to be held at a lower standard of conduct.

This year alone, at least two incidents of misconduct have taken place. One was the CatCard scandal, during which football players felt it would be amusing to steal $1 bills from CatCard employees. Except for being placed in the Dean of Students Diversion Program, the players suffered no repercussions and were still allowed to play in the games.

Even more disgusting was UA offensive tackler Manuia Savea's domestic violence charges. Savea reportedly assaulted his wife while their three young children were in the house. He was arrested on charges of domestic violence assault, domestic violence damage and contributing to the delinquency and dependency of a minor.

Tomey's response?

"I can't just do something when there's a charge. That's not fair to anybody."

Tomey, an influential voice on the UA campus, is not only doing absolutely nothing to remedy his players' misconduct, but he is actually condoning their behavior.

The bottom line is, handcuffs from a cop ought to equal benching from the coach. By not responding to such behavior, Tomey is hurting his own reputation and the image of his team.

There is an element of ethics involved in athletics, but Tomey seems to have dismissed this idea or never understood it in the first place.

Furthermore, all UA football players need to stop capitalizing off of the benefits they reap as campus athletes. Incidents involving players' misconduct are becoming so common they are no longer surprising.

In 1994, several football players were caught re-selling textbooks that they never paid for in the first place. (UA football players receive their textbooks free as a benefit of playing on the team.) The players were making a sizable profit, until they were caught by university officials and harshly reprimanded.

True, a university football team can contribute to school pride. But school pride is not a product of victories alone. It is a product of its players' integrity and desire to perform well in school as well as on the field.

School pride is not the product of football players making headlines for petty theft, fraud and, most frighteningly, domestic violence. While not all football players engage in such behavior, the ones who choose to humiliate the coach, the team and the university as a whole.

If Tomey and his team want to accomplish something truly of value this season, they should raise the bar of their conduct. Tomey should tolerate less misconduct and expect more decency from his players; if he sees anything less, he should take the appropriate action and not let his players represent the school on the field.

All UA football players should take it upon themselves to behave as gentlemen and true athletes by not participating in anything that will bring dishonor upon themselves and the university.

It is time for the football team to stop making headlines for incidents other than victories on the field.

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