American universities are protecting their university’s public image by telling athletes how to act out of school. At Ryerson, Sports & Rec is letting athletes live their lives. Sports Editor Amit Shilton reports.
Canadian schools are staying clear of a growing trend in American universities, which is putting the spotlight on their athelete’s private lives.
As five football players at the University of Connecticut were dismissed for buying beer on a team trip and an Oklahoma University quarterback was kicked off his team after receiving money for a part-time job he didn’t show up for, David Dubois, Ryerson’s director of sports and recreation, is making sure the same incidents don’t happen at his school.
“You try and give (the athletes) all the tools to make the right decisions but you can’t be 100 per cent sure that they’re going to make the right decisions,” Dubois said.
In response to the rape case surrounding Duke University’s lacrosse team, several American universities have beefed up their restrictions on athletes. Now, athletes are held more accountable in maintaining their university’s public image.
As a result, Ryerson recently introduced a captain’s council and a program where young athletes are mentored by veteran players.
However, Dubois said that the Rams are normally on their best behaviour. Ryerson athletes have a 90 to 95 per cent graduation rate while most schools in the U.S. average at around 25 per cent, he said.
“We place a significant amount of weight on academics and so we should,” he said. “It’s not about getting the good athlete, it’s about getting the good student.”
New regulations in the U.S. have also placed the athletes’ resposibility in the hands of their coaches. At Northwestern University, several players were suspended and a coach resigned after photos of the team’s hazing party surfaced on the Internet.
Dubois said that Ryerson coaches plan their road trips to avoid such issues, going as far as scouting locations before heading out. Team activities such as going out for dinner are set to not only build team chemistry, but also let the coach know where his players are at all times.
Men’s basketball coach Glenn Taylor doesn’t think that athletes should be his responsibility.
“I don’t see how I can be held accountable when they’re outside my jurisdiction,” said men’s basketball head coach Glenn Taylor.
Taylor said he isn’t worried about his team’s behaviour, mentioning that his players are too committed to the basketball program.
“The guys who are dedicated, who work out very hard and keep themselves in shape, it’s not in their interest to go out and drink,” Taylor said. “Most of my guys can’t afford to go out.”