Is This Time Different?

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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