GORDON WHITE: Thuggery: ACC Has Its Hands Full With Canes and Hokies
Check out White's Blog
The Atlantic Coast Conference seems to have bought a pig in a poke when it reached out and snatched the University of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College away from the Big East Conference a few years ago.
Remember those flowery words of how these three newcomers fit into this magnificent conference where education and athletics blend so well in grand achievements for students and athletes? Or do you better remember the real reason of making more money for each institution in the ACC?
Since the NCAA ruled that each conference must have a minimum of 12 teams in order to conduct a football playoff, the nine-member ACC naturally reached out to grab what three teams it could in order to make the big bucks.
Greed, dear fans, served the ACC as it often motivates so many of life's decisions.
Now the ACC has to face up to the fact that Miami and Virginia Tech are not necessarily the finest football citizens in this wonderful world of sport. The Hurricanes maintained their reputation as a thuggish motorcycle gang wearing football uniforms when they weighed into a wild brawl with Florida International University players during the third quarter of their game in the Orange Bowl eight days ago.
This inexcusable melee was not the first time the Hurricanes were out of control since joining the wonderful, educational/athletic ACC. Miami players fought with LSU players in the stadium tunnel during the Peach Bowl last Dec. 30, and Miami players stomped on the Cardinal midfield logo just before kickoff when playing at Louisville, five weeks ago. Louisville won, 31-7.
There surely is a pattern of misbehavior there.
Virginia Tech has displayed so much poor sportsmanship in recent games with Duke and Boston College that TV announcers make a lengthy discussion of Tech's bad conduct during the broadcasts. One announcer said during the B.C. game, "We keep seeing this from Coach Frank Beamer and the Hokies."
Tech has also had quite a few serious police problems involving its players in recent years.
Miami and FIU meted out quite different punishments after the Orange Bowl disgrace.
Florida International, a neighboring school in the city of Miami, came down hard by throwing two players off the team for good and giving indefinite suspensions to 16 others who took part in the 10-minute scrum. All will be required to do community service.
FIU officials stated the indefinite suspensions could be for quite some time. The players must prove good behavior, do their community service and keep up good grades in class before any thought of return to the team.
Miami, on the other hand, suspended one player indefinitely. He is Anthony Reddick, a sophomore defensive back, who swung his helmet as a weapon, hitting at least one FIU player in the face. A dozen other Miami players were given, of all things, a one-game suspension. That one game was yesterday's contest against Duke, possibly the worst Division 1-A team in the nation.
Miami's president, Donna Shalala, said, "This university will be firm and punish people who do bad things." Is she kidding?
She added, "We will not throw any student under the bus for instant restoration of our image or our reputation."
Ms. Shalala, who served as President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years, may not realize that long before she became president at Miami in 2001, the Hurricanes' football team had a reputation as a group of rowdies even while winning National Championships. The reputation she is out to save is not necessarily a good one. She should think of creating a totally new and better reputation.
Ms. Shalala also refused to fire Larry Coker, the head coach at Miami. But it seems his job may be good only until the end of the current season. After all, the once powerful Miami Hurricanes are a mere shadow of their former selves, this year falling out of the nation's top 25 ranking for the first time in years. Losses might even obscure misconduct in employment decisions.
And where is the ACC in all this?
Commissioner John Swofford sounded a bit like Ms. Shalala when he spoke of the near riot in the Orange Bowl.
"It just shouldn't happen," Swofford said. "But I've been watching this league since I could barely walk and there have always been sportsmanship issues. It's a human endeavor and humans are going to make mistakes along the way."
Then there was the Duke lacrosse drinking party.
So why shouldn't the ACC have the Hurricanes and Hokies as partners in "human endeavor", no matter how disgusting it may be?
Gordon White served 43 years as a sport reporter for The New York Times. His e-mail is email@example.com
More like this story