On transparency in sports
An editorial by Michael Kelley '14
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 10:09
As I watched warm-ups for the Lafayette-Penn game last weekend, I missed a familiar face from the field: starting quarterback Andrew Shoop ‘13.
Initially, I figured he was still working with the training staff or getting dressed. But as I leafed through the media guide, I saw only two names listed on the captain’s page: cornerback Darius Safford ‘13 and defensive lineman Rick Lyster ‘13. No Shoop.
I was convinced that a typo had been made until the sports information director informed me that it was more than a mere mix-up… that there was much more to this.
It was announced that Shoop had been suspended for one game and had his captaincy revoked for the entire season by the coaching staff for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Head Coach Frank Tavani said that the violation did not involve any of the three major tenets of “Leopard Law” – alcohol abusedrug use, class attendance and stealing, violations that would have resulted in an indefinite suspension. But neither Tavani, Shoop, nor anyone in the Athletic Department would provide any reason for the suspension.
As a sports reporter, this raises red flags.
Putting the pieces together, I figured Shoop’s violation could not have been too serious if it only resulted in a one game suspension. But why was no one talking?
This isn’t the first time the football team has kept the public in the dark. Last year, three players were suspended from the team indefinitely for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. At that time, Tavani also refused to confirm or deny any details.
When I asked Shoop about the reason for not revealing the violation, he said, “I just think with the team we have and the mindset we’ve taken on with ‘Family Always Stays Together,’ we have to keep it in-house and within the football family. Regardless of what the situation was, I lost a game for it. In my personal belief, that’s all that needs to be said.”
Perhaps it is a minor violation. But Lafayette’s decision to keep it under wraps is not unique among college athletics. Violations at the collegiate level are often shrouded in mystery, typically classified as a “violation of team rules.”
Should violations be revealed, though? I say yes, because the public has the right to know. As a journalist, I have the responsibility to write, to monitor those in power and to search for the truth. Otherwise, assumptions are made and rumors circle.
It is due time that a higher level of transparency be instituted in college athletics, holding our athletes to higher standards.
Michael Kelley '14 has been The Lafayette Sports Editor since January 2012.