Even though it’s unfortunately still the NCAA basketball off-season, pilule the summer has been anything but quiet for some B1G basketball teams, and for a not-so-great reason: Two teams have released players for disciplinary issues this summer.
The Fighting Illini let go of Darius Paul, a junior forward, who was arrested in August while the team was playing abroad in France. He was charged with vandalism and resisting arrest, according to the Chicago Tribune. This is the second time Paul had disciplinary issues while at Illinois — the team suspended him for a year after getting arrested in Champaign for drinking underage and resisting an officer.
Across state lines in Bloomington, Ind., Coach Tom Crean has also dismissed players since last season concluded. Per the Indy Star, the team released sophomore forward Emmitt Holt after he was cited for possession of alcohol in August (and injured teammate Devin Davis with his car in 2014). The Hoosiers also released two players — sophomore Devin Davis and senior Hanner Mosquera-Perea — for “not living up to the responsibilities to the program” after they were cited for marijuana possession in May, the Indy Star reported.
Even though these players are legally adults, Coach Crean, for one, has expressed that “the responsibility of their behavior falls on me,” a video on Indy Star indicated.
That seems at little extreme. While the staff of the Illini and the Hoosiers can be seen as responsible for the players they coach, since they recruited them to campus…these players are legally adults. I would never expect my parents, professors or bosses to take responsibility for the choices I make outside of the classroom or workplace.
Student-athletes definitely bear a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, much more than the typical college student, and it’s true that most of what these players were involved in doesn’t differ much from what the typical college student does in his free time.
However, most of the now-released players had discipline problems in the past and were given the opportunity to prove themselves to their coaches and teammates.
Paul even said as much in a statement: “I apologize to the coaches to begged me to stay on the right path and gave me a second chance to succeed.”
They were on their second chances, and they blew it. Now, I think all that can be expected is for the coaches of these players to support them as they transition away from the team.
All three former Indiana players have announced they will play elsewhere — Holt at a junior college in Iowa (per CBSSports), Davis at a junior college in Texas (according to the Indy Star) and Mosquera-Perea at East Tennessee State. I hope Paul is also able to find a happy ending and a college home where he can play the game he excels at without the off-court distractions.
And I hope Coach Groce and Coach Crean can get their locker rooms and lineups in order after these unfortunate upheavals and that the rest of the off-season stays quiet, until the season starts and we can hear glorious sounds of the squeak of sneakers and the swish of the net once again.
What do you think? Should coaches shoulder the blame for their players’ off-court actions? Let me know in the comments.