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Monday, September 24, 2007 Gary Parish - Maybe It's Time to Lock Players Up for the Weekend

Maybe it's time to lock players up for the weekend
Sep. 21, 2007
By Gary Parrish Senior Writer

The weekend is upon us.

So you know what that means, right?

Yep, we are probably less than 48 hours from some college basketball player getting into some seriously stupid legal trouble, if recent history is any indication. That has been the trend lately, you know. Seems like every Monday morning produces a story about a hooper getting arrested, which has in turn made these offseason weekends something coaches should fear like early foul trouble.

Thank God it's Friday?

These days it's more like Oh God, it's Friday.

"At this juncture, we will let the judicial process run its course before determining what disciplinary action is necessary. We have built a successful program at Pitt, on and off the court, by prioritizing personal accountability and responsibility. We will not compromise when it comes to those values."

That's the statement Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon released last Sunday after his starting point guard, Levance Fields, was arrested outside a club and charged with aggravated assault, disarming a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. The incident came exactly two weeks after Memphis coach John Calipari held a press conference on a Sunday after two of his reserves, Jeff Robinson and Shawn Taggart, were arrested outside a club and charged with inciting a riot and disorderly conduct.

Fields allegedly punched a cop and tried to grab his gun.

Robinson allegedly cursed the cops and charged at one with balled fists.

Taggart allegedly yelled "F--- the police" in a way only Ice Cube could truly appreciate.

(On a completely unrelated note, how wild is it that the man who once wrote "F--- tha Police" for NWA is now starring in kid movies? It's either the biggest sellout or maturation of all-time. Perhaps both.)

Anyway, Fields was Tasered and Robinson was Maced, and I'm not sure how this kind of stuff happens. Some will argue it is simply the result of staying out late, drinking and hanging in clubs, but that's not really true. As a man who has stayed out late (too many times), drank (way too much) and hung in clubs (far too often until they closed), I can honestly tell you I have never been Maced or Tasered.

In fact, I have never so much as seen anybody get Maced or Tasered and would have no idea what it even looks or sounds like if not for the YouTube video of the University of Florida campus police Tasering that student at a John Kerry speech.

(Note to Billy Donovan: Keep your players away from the campus police!)

In other words, these are not cases of kids just being kids or boys just being boys. These are cases of people just being stupid. Take Duquesne's Stuard Baldonado getting arrested this month for allegedly smoking marijuana on a street corner. But this wasn't any street corner, mind you. It was a street corner just down the street from the street corner where Baldonado was arrested five days earlier and charged with criminal conspiracy involving the manufacture, delivery or possession of a controlled substance. Seems like if you get hit with drug charges outside some place, you probably ought to find a new place to smoke weed, but maybe I'm crazy.

Meanwhile, a North Dakota State College of Science basketball player named Touhomi Ghazoul has been charged with theft of property for allegedly using a school telephone credit card number to make more than $10,000 worth of unauthorized calls. Call me sexist, but any college student talking on the phone that much needs his man-card revoked, or at least a cell phone with a decent plan and unlimited minutes.

So what do we have here?

We have basketball players getting arrested for all sorts of different things that are all rooted in exactly the same thing: stupidity.

Trying to take a cop's gun? Stupid.

Charging a cop with balled fists? Stupid.

Yelling "F--- the police" at the police, smoking weed on a street corner in total view of everybody and using a credit card number to make $10,000 worth of unauthorized calls that can easily be traced back to you? Stupid, stupid and incredibly stupid.

I can tolerate such stupidity from O.J. and Britney, but not from the student-athletes I spend my days writing about. So my challenge to the college basketball world is for me to be able to sit at my desk Monday morning, scan headlines and ultimately mumble to myself, "Man, nobody got arrested for something really, really stupid this weekend! How about that!"

In other words, if you must smoke weed, smoke weed at home (or at least indoors).

And if you must make a long distance phone call, borrow somebody's cell phone.

And if you must fight, fight somebody other than the police.

Fight each other.

Fight a civilian.

I don't care you who you fight, just make sure it's not a cop. Because fighting cops -- or even acting like you might be interested in fighting cops -- never works out in your favor. It instead leads to Sunday statements and press conferences, and haven't we had enough of those already?

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