First there's the foolishness that led to the pot being in KMac's car in the first place. I don't want ND players using pot, especially during the season, but as hypocritical as this might sound, I understand how it's the "drug of choice" of basketball players in general and, like alcohol, realize there's going to be some use whether I like it or not. So it amends to not wanting pot use to affect the players' lives or the team's performance, and by being indiscreet with the materials in the car, KMac has violated that edict.
Next there's the foolishness that led to some of the reactions (since deleted) on The Pit. Draconian down-from-the-mountain crap isn't the way to go here either. You can be disappointed in the young man's choices without being a dick about it. Fire-and-brimstone punishment might make you feel a little more superior than all the rest, but it does very little for the young man wearing the Fighting Irish uniform.
Will the foolishness continue? That remains to be seen.
It certainly won't be foolish to punish the young man, although there's potential foolishness in the details of that punishment. As I said, I have a low tolerance for players who disrupt the team with bad choices. KMac did something dumb, and he's going to (and should) be punished for it regardless of what it means for the season. It blows that his teammates will suffer, but that's the point of being a team -- what you do affects everyone else, and what everyone else does affects you. But there's punishment that teaches a lesson to the punished and there's punishment that looks or feels good for the punisher. I want plenty of the former and none of the latter.
I think it would be foolish to make more of this than deserves to be made. On the grand scale of crime, I put things like a first-time possession charge pretty low on the totem pole. It doesn't indicate a pattern of behavior (although it can be used later to establish one if the behavior repeats), and, unlike assaulting a kid on a basketball court or driving under the influence, doesn't involve hurting another person either physically, psychologically or emotionally. It certainly doesn't fall under the purview of the NCAA rulebook. ND has a strong track record expecting accountability for its athletes both on and off the court, so I don't doubt they'll do their due diligence.
On The Pit, Kayo asked if we were King of ND, what we would do in response to KMac's situation. If my uneasy head wore the crown, I'd stop the foolishness this way.
First, I'd allow him to remain in school. Suspending him for a semester and putting his academic progress off track doesn't accomplish anything.
Second, I'd suspend him from playing or practicing with the team for one month. He could still work out with them or do whatever training table or other related activities he usually does with his teammates, but nothing on the court. I'd even go so far as to keep him off the bench during games for that month.
Third and finally, I'd require 100 hours of community service, to be completed before the start of the Fall 2007 semester. I'm guessing there are drug treatment centers in the greater South Bend metro area that could use some help.
I'd also tell him since this is a first offense and he has a clean record, he's getting off light. A second example of foolishness would result in the sky falling down on him.
Likewise, his teammates would be informed KMac had used up their one mulligan for the season and they should consider themselves on notice. Foolish behavior on their part would put them right underneath that falling sky as well.
Good seasons at ND have been affected by foolishness before. In 1962-63, the team started 11-3 before Ron Reed and Larry Sheffield didn't make grades, and the team barely snuck into the NCAA tournament. Last season on the gridiron, the Irish missed Rashon Powers-Neal after his suspension for a DUI charge.
We'll see how this Irish team reacts. Hopefully they can still make it a magical one.
I'm going to leave the comments open here, and invite response on The Pit as well. But there's one type of comment I won't even bother approving, so you shouldn't bother making it:
"You ripped on Troy Smith for his character issues, and now you're saying it's no big deal for McAlarney."
Yes, I did. I did so because (a) Smith physically assaulted someone and took booster money, which represents (as I said above) both a higher-echelon crime and an NCAA violation, and (b) the reason for the comments was Smith's being in contention for an award that has a character component. If later in his career, KMac is up for a national award and his primary competitor has a better record in this area, I'll point out the difference just as I did with Smith and Quinn.
Labels: nd basketball