Though I’m sure the Vols will learn the right lesson from the punishment Jones doles out to Coleman Thomas.
Category Archives: Crime and Punishment
Some headers just write themselves. But I digress.
You see, the Georgia legislature actually did something sensible. It passed a law that gave amnesty from arrest in cases where an underage drinker got so sick they needed medical help.
But the legislature didn’t count on one Jimmy Williamson.
And that brings us back to that Friday night in the parking lot in front of Reed Hall. An 18-year-old student is taken away by ambulance. But Officer Park is still ordered to charge her with underage drinking because to qualify for amnesty, he’s told she had to be the one to call for help, instead of her friend.
“Captain’s interpretation made absolutely no sense. I told them it made no sense.” Park said to FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis.
His supervisors told him they’d have a meeting Monday to consult with local prosecutors and figure out how they should handle amnesty cases. But before his Saturday midnight shift, Park decided on his own to call a judge and two state lawmakers for advice, including the state senator who proposed the underage drinking amnesty law.
“I think initially even law enforcement in Athens was confused,” said state senator Bill Cowsert of Athens.
Senator, you see that as a bug. Ol’ Jimmy sees that as a feature.
“I’m a police officer. My sgt’s telling me to get an arrest warrant for someone where I know I’m not supposed to. What am I supposed to do?” Park said later.
Park went back to the station and then went home. On Monday, chief Jimmy Williamson called him back in and told the five-year veteran he was fired for calling outsiders on his own to ask about the amnesty law.
“He never came to me about his concerns or confusion about what was going on in shift,” chief Williamson explained.
“Sounds like he was being a lot more liberal with the law than you wanted him to be,” said Randy.
“I don’t have any problem with him questioning. That’s not the issue.”
Park’s personnel file shows an earlier reprimand for going outside the chain of command. As for the amnesty law, Williamson says they were initially unclear about how to handle cases where the caller doesn’t ask for medical assistance… but just reports a drunk person.
Chief: Amnesty doesn’t apply if we are required to get EMS involved.
Randy: So the caller has to use the magic words “I want an ambulance” for the amnesty to apply in that situation?
Chief: I think when it says seeking medical help, that’s kind of how we’re looking at it.
Well, that’s nice. If not consistent.
Up until that Tennessee game last fall, UGA police had not granted amnesty for a single underage drinking case. Compare that number… zero… to how many amnesty cases have happened since Park’s firing: 38 through the end of February, including those two cases that originally got him in so much trouble on the Tennessee game weekend. Those students were ultimately not charged.
Maybe Jimmy’s trying to prove he’s not out to get just student-athletes.
I haven’t said much about the Todd Gurley bill, the one that would criminalize people who lead college athletes into behavior that jeopardizes their NCAA eligibility, winding its way through the Georgia legislature because:
- I have a natural antipathy towards knee-jerk legislation that’s crafted in response to something that happened to a specific person. (“Numbered House Bill 3 to reflect Bulldog’s jersey number…”)
- It’s unlikely to pass in the Senate.
- It’s a really stupid idea.
Doubt me on the stupid? Let the bill’s author explain.
“The individual who enticed him to sell his autograph was not punished, and that is the reason for this bill,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem.
A 2003 law allows colleges to sue one of their own alumni whose actions harm the whole school’s eligibility, but that didn’t cover the Gurley situation.
“We punish the person who sells alcohol to minors as well as the person who buys the alcohol,” Fleming said, arguing the buyer of the autographs should have been punished the way Gurley was with the four-game suspension he served during the fall.
Nice analogy. Evidently nobody has bothered to point out to Rep. Fleming that the NCAA’s rules aren’t codified criminal law in this country. Although I’m sure Mark Emmert wouldn’t mind if some legislative body out there wanted to make the attempt.
Oh, and as far as punishing somebody “the way Gurley was”, Fleming’s bill imposes a $25,000 fine and jail time on somebody who is doing nothing more than engaging in normal commerce. And by normal commerce, I mean doing something that with any person on the planet other than a college student-athlete wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. You know, that whole free enterprise thing that we love to sing praises to here.
Fleming’s a Georgia grad, natch, so I’m sure this will stand him in good stead at whatever tailgates he attends. But it’s a really dumb stunt.
What we have here is a pretty ugly story accusing the University of Tennessee athletics department of inappropriately pressuring officials in charge of campus discipline and exerting undue influence, coming from the university’s former vice chancellor for student life, the office that investigates allegations of student misconduct.
Plenty of denials to go around, of course. Not that they’re particularly fact based.
DiPietro and Cheek told The Tennessean that in the past two years since Rogers’ retirement, UT has improved the student disciplinary process as well as how it reports and handles sexual assaults.
The revelation of Rogers’ 2013 documents alleging interference by the UT athletics department on student discipline comes amid growing scrutiny of the university after several misconduct allegations against football players. At least five players on the 2014 roster have been accused of sexual assault.
In other words, they can report the sexual assaults. They just can’t prevent the sexual assaults.
Then, there are the clever euphemisms.
In a February interview in Memphis, Cheek strongly denied that he or the athletics department inappropriately influenced discipline of student-athletes. Rogers never cited concerns about a specific case involving a student-athlete, Cheek said.
Cheek said he and Hart were at times critical of punishments meted out to student-athletes. Cheek said Rogers’ staff was too punitive and “legalistic” with all students, not just student-athletes, involving some offenses.
Yeah, getting “legalistic” with people who break the law by sexually assaulting others… what are they thinking?
But the best part is importing someone from FSU – FSU! – to run the asylum, er, athletic department and go on to do this: “… the position of athletics director for the first time had been elevated to vice chancellor, giving Hart more power on universitywide issues than previous athletics directors.”
It’s Phil Fulmer’s wet dream. And the results were entirely predictable.
In one incident referenced in Rogers’ documents, Rogers witnessed Hart “shouting at” Jenny Wright, whose primary responsibility was determining discipline in student misconduct cases.
According to Wright, Hart told her that he did not agree with penalties she had given football players. He questioned whether she was harsher on athletes than traditional students and criticized her specifically over the punishment she had given a football player. Wright denied treating athletes differently than other students.
“During our discussion, Mr. Hart stood in front of me, leaned his face toward mine, raised his voice as he spoke and became visibly angry,” Wright told The Tennessean. The confrontation occurred in 2012 in a hallway before a female athletics luncheon. “Vice Chancellor Rogers stood next to us throughout the conversation, and dozens of my colleagues walked past us in the corridor.”
In 2013, Wright found herself in the middle of a public controversy when she was accused of engaging in inappropriate sexual relations with student-athletes. The allegations led to her termination. However, an independent review subsequently commissioned by the university found no evidence to support the allegations against Wright.
The report on Wright included the summary of an interview with Becky Dahl, then an assistant director of programs at UT’s Department of Recreational Sports. Dahl told investigators that in the summer of 2013, Wright had confided in her she was being pressured by the athletics director, “to perform her job in a certain way that she felt was not in the best interest of students” and he “could have caused her to be terminated or reprimanded and she was afraid of him.”
The investigative report also recommended that “the Chancellor should issue a communication to all employees of the Athletics Department that threats against a University employee in an effort to impede the exercise of responsibilities related to student disciplinary actions and compliance matters would be a violation of the University’s Code of Conduct and grounds for disciplinary action, including termination of employment.”
In response to that recommendation, Cheek met with athletics department employees and instructed them not to interfere with student disciplinary cases, according to a university spokeswoman.
I guess the lesson hasn’t stuck yet. But there’s still hope.
“Our first priority is to prevent sexual assaults on campus,” Cheek said. “Any sexual assaults — male-on-female, female-on-male — is unacceptable at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. We have been proactive in developing a new policy and getting input from faculty, staff and students. We put together in the late spring, early summer a task force to have an interim policy in place by August of 2014 so that our students knew about it. We heightened the awareness of sexual assault considerably in our orientation programs.”
Well, maybe not.
I tell you what – there are days when I read shit like this and shake my head. For me, sometimes the wonder isn’t so much that many cases of on-campus sexual assault involving student-athletes aren’t properly resolved, as it is that the victims are willing to report them in the first place. (At least the basketball players in question were kicked off the team and out of school.)
Oh, and the punchline in this particular case?
UO public records officer Lisa Thornton in an email cited the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, attorney-client privilege and “applicable exemptions and exclusions from the Oregon Public Records law” as reasons for the redactions.
FERPA giveth and FERPA taketh away. Convenient for the schools, anyway.
An Arkansas player is charged with DWI and Bert takes away his driving privileges.
Maybe next time, he’ll be grounded, too.