Virginia Tech has been through disciplinary problems before with their
football team, and at various times in the past, the football coaches and VT
administration have puffed out their chests and promised to crack down on poor
behavior. There has been talk before about protecting the image of the
university and the integrity of the football program; steps are sometimes taken,
but bad behavior and bad publicity have always cropped up again. This time the
rhetoric has a different focus, and I find myself wondering: Is this time
different? Or are we just hearing an old, tired song?
I’m not here to give a litany of past transgressions by Tech’s football team
and the disciplinary responses to them, but a few major events in recent history
stand out and give perspective to the current discussion.
- In 1995-1996, there were 19 arrests of football players in various
incidents, the most infamous being the Blacksburg Brawl, in which seven
players and one former player were arrested for beating Tech track athlete
Hilliard Sumner. 1995 also featured a long, ongoing storm of bad publicity
as a result of a
rape accusation made by former student Christy Brzonkala against
football players Tony Morrison and James Crawford.
- In early 1997, in response to the storm of bad publicity over the behavior
of the football team, the University drafted and put into place a Comprehensive
Action Plan (CAP) governing the behavior of student-athletes. The
CAP was an attempt to outline expectations for the behavior of athletes and
to standardize punishments for arrests and convictions, as well as the use
of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. One purpose of the CAP was to take
some of the decision-making for punishment out of the hands of the coaches
and put it in the hands of the athletic director.
- In February of 2000, defensive lineman Derrius Monroe was arrested for
felony cocaine distribution. In August of that year, Monroe pled guilty to
felony cocaine possession, and under his plea agreement, the conviction was
deferred. If Monroe complied with requirements laid out for him, including
community service, for two years, his record would be cleared, and the
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