Friday, September 07, 2012

Is B.U.’s hockey team an isolated incident or the norm?

This morning the popular discussion on twitter this morning – other than the President Obama’s speech – was the BU Hockey Task Force report that the Boston Globe had gotten their hands on. Let’s just put it this way – there were some interesting, chilling and puzzling revelations to come out of the that report. Some of the stuff that is in this Boston Globe newspaper isn’t very flattering and kind of sheds what I would call a negative light on the Boston University Hockey team.

After watching Penn State have the book thrown at them this summer for what the NCAA referred to as a lack of institutional control – I am beginning to see – albeit on a much smaller scale – what appears to be yet another big time high profile university, lacking some degree of institutional control.

What’s different this is that this sex scandal – if you want to call it that – was perpetrated by the hockey players instead of the coach and the victims were college co-eds instead of innocent minor children, under the age of 18. Neither of these types of incidents are excusable and or acceptable

On the keg party that took place at Agganis Arena – it appears that the head coach Jack Parker was aware of the arena party incident after initially denying that he knew about the incidents. Again, these kind of incidents don’t shed a very positive light on the Boston University hockey program. I could see how this appears to outsiders that Coach Parker has losing control of his hockey team and he has turned a blind eye to this behavior.

I also just don’t buy that argument that it’s happening everywhere and the other programs just haven’t been caught yet. There is no reason we have to excuse or pooh-pooh this bad behavior – or try to deflect the blame. It’s one thing to have student athletes partying – I get that – they’re in college and I would be willing to bet that 70 to 85 percent of college athletes probably have a drink at least once in a while.

It’s another thing to have an out of control raging party right on the campus in the locker room – I don't have a problem with a house party if you're of age, again, I get it, college kids drink alcohol both legally and illegally – a keg party at hockey arena with players and their dates having sex in a penalty box – that's unacceptable. I am not sure how anyone can excuse that either. That's right out of the penthouse form or a late night movie on Cinemax. I am going to say that some lines have been crossed in that instance.

What appears to be difference in this instance is  – instead of covering this up scandal and sweeping this under the rug – Boston University instead decided to address the issues that emerged. The difference in this case was that BU was more proactive and the University wants to right the ship before this gets anymore out of control, hence, having the NCAA getting involved and throwing the book at BU like they did against PSU.
Mary Carmichael, Boston Globe --- When Boston University released its report Wednesday on hockey players’ “culture of sexual entitlement,” it kept most of the investigation details — including accounts of sexual debauchery and wide-ranging allegations of academic trouble — confined to confidential subcommittee reports.

In the documents, which were obtained by the Globe on Thursday, were tales of a late-night 2009 NCAA championship party at Agganis Arena where dozens of guests drank from kegs in the locker room showers and took to the ice naked to shoot pucks.

“It was insane,” one former student who attended told the BU task force. “People were having sex in the penalty box.”

Campus police did not find out about the party, nor did BU administrators — until this year, when the task force started asking questions. During interviews with the task force, hockey coach Jack Parker also professed ignorance, at first saying he had never heard about the bash, but later acknowledging he knew of “a few guys drinking in the locker room.”
I am also wondering if BU and other colleges and University sports programs around the country have become an insular place where the athletes and coaching staffed become convinced of its own righteousness?

Boston University’s president Dr. Robert A. Brown has posted on his schools web page the hockey task force report and it’s available to people to peruse and study. This paragraph caught my eye and I wonder if this same thing is happening at other colleges and universities around the USA?
Of primary concern was the question of whether inherent aspects of the program’s culture and climate could have helped to foster the actions that led to the criminal charges. For those unfamiliar with Boston University athletic programs, the men’s hockey team, which has won a total of five national championships, has garnered substantial national recognition and is often among the top university ice hockey programs in the nation. Its visibility both on and off campus exceeds that of any other BU athletic program.
While I am concerned about the criminal behavior such as sexual assault that was addressed in this report – I am also concerned about athletes being given preferential treatment academically. I am also disappointed, that a University with the academic record of Boston University, would lower expectations and academic standards for BU hockey players and have another set of standards for regular students. If I was a student at BU that wasn't a hockey player, I would be disappointed with this revelation.
Academic performance data show that with some exceptions, the academic performance of the men’s ice hockey team falls below that of the undergraduate student body as a whole. Information provided by faculty regarding their classroom experiences with team members was highly variable. Some had very positive interactions with players and some had much less positive experiences. Historically, the players’ NCAA graduation rates have been high. The data and information, taken together, are interpreted to indicate that while there are not clear systemic problems, the academic performance of the men’s ice hockey team members should continue to be monitored to ensure that they meet university standards. The admissions data we examined indicates that a number of team members matriculated despite test scores and grade point averages that are considerably lower than the mean for students admitted to Boston University. [BU Hockey Task Force Report]
Again, kudos for Boston University addressing the problem before it got too far out of hand and ended up in the NCAA’s crosshairs, that speaks volumes for Boston University as opposed to one school I can think of out in Missoula, Montana who is now is in the middle of a major scandal on their campus because  school authorities and local law enforcement officials have been accused of doing too little to respond to claims of sexual assaults.

The NCAA, Department of Justice and Federal Law Enforcement agencies are now investigating this scandal. Nothing good can come out of this situation when you have this many agencies looking into scandal.

Lastly, I don’t think the BU Hockey situation is a norm for college hockey programs – that’s not to say that there isn’t issue that arises from time to time.
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