Is It Time For a Systematic Culture Change?

Sep 24, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; The Indiana Hoosiers logo sewn into a band members uniform before the game against Wake Forest at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; The Indiana Hoosiers logo sewn into a band members uniform before the game against Wake Forest at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

The latest arrests for Indiana Football shines light on troubling trend for student-athletes. Is it time for a systematic culture change?

It has become apparent, that a major trend has begun at Indiana University and a handful of other schools in the Big Ten Conference. Not a trend you want to brag about either.

Kiante Enis, freshman running back converted wide receiver is the latest student-athlete to be dismissed from the Indiana Football program for charges of child molestation. He has become the second player apart of the program who has been arrested in the past ten days. The 6th player in the past 18 months to be arrested.

Since January of 2014, the two programs whom drive the highest amount (men’s basketball/football) of revenue for the school have had 19 separate incidents involving local law enforcement and/or team discipline. An astounding number for a school built on character and integrity. Charges against players in both programs include DUIOWI, battery, possession and distribution of narcotics, child molestation, public intoxication, possession of illegal substance, and more.

Quite the laundry list of problems. Has the university been stamped with a bad wrap from poor choices of the few? Or does the positive impact from the many that represent everything the university embodies shine through?

This problem extends far above and beyond the athletic programs at the university.

Becoming exposed to situations involving alcohol and drugs is almost guaranteed for every student at some point in a college environment. It marks a time in the lives of young adults to make choices that could impact the rest of their lives. The traditional college experience would not be without either of these.

Not every student or athlete necessarily engages in these activities, but it’s worth wondering whether or not young adults are able to understand what yes and no really mean. Athletes especially find themselves under tremendous pressure from local popularity. It comes with acknowledgement and choices that others don’t have to make. The reflection their choices have on something much larger than themselves.

Some might not realize what they represent. How their actions can directly affect the way the students and university is looked upon by the rest of the country. Decisions that every day college students might make that go unnoticed.

The more important question is what the thought process is behind a student-athlete with everything to lose? Why was that choice made? What could have been different? Scholarships, playing time, reputation, and all the other benefits that come with being a student-athlete can disappear in a matter of seconds.

I certainly do not hold the answer to many of these questions but how can students, professors, coaches, and staff associated with the university help to change the culture? It’s not just Indiana University either. It happens at other schools every single day. It happens right here in the Big Ten Conference. But how can Indiana break the trend of criminal involvement of their players and begin to redefine the mold that so many programs struggle with controlling?

Many will throw the blame on Coach Crean, Coach Wilson for not having ample control over what their players are involved in. The reality is the coaching staff for each athletic program can only do so much in order to protect their players. Coaches cannot hold the hands of each and every player every step of the way. They hold trust in what they say, represent to reflect positively on their athletes to make the right choices. At the end of the day, these are adults with unique opportunities to succeed but also inexperienced college students.

Indiana President McRobbie addressed the behavior of student athletes in an all-staff meeting in August of 2015.

“What I do not want to see is any more stories of repeated student misbehavior. They embarrass the university, they embarrass all of you in Athletics, and they are a complete distraction from our primary role as an educational institution,” McRobbie said. “This misbehavior simply has to stop.”

President McRobbie has been an influential part of the discipline for student-athlete behavior over the course of the last year.

Perhaps, ‘fulfilling the promise’.

That’s what reads in large cream text in the northeast part of the end zone at Memorial Stadium. But what promise are students and student-athletes suppose to be fulfilling? How many of those students who attend the school truly understand what that means.

McRobbie concluded, “I have stressed repeatedly that our student-athletes are first and foremost students! Our ultimate goal is to help them obtain a degree that will prepare them for career and life success.”

While this statement was made over a year ago, it still resonates as criminal activity among athletes continues to happen.

All I (we) ask as students, alumni, and fans is to see a culture of unity and positivity. Open the dialogue about what can be changed in the culture and atmosphere of athletics and the university.

Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /