There’ve been an awful lot of jokes made lately about that prison work farm out in Athens. I hear they have a football program, something like out of “The Longest Yard” (the good version, not the Adam Sandler tripe).
But it looks like the University of Georgia isn’t alone in its frequent brushes with the law. Though it’s unlikely any felony charges will result, Georgia Tech has had its troubles of late with the NCAA, and just this morning news broke that Kelton Hill – who likely was destined to be the starting quarterback for Georgia State – was arrested with another student for breaking into a dorm room through a window and stealing a $1,300 laptop.
My faith in Coach Curry had evidently been misplaced, since this quarterback (and a Lithia Springs alumnus) would have thought that he could get away with a felony burglary. Granted, it’d be one thing if he largely rode the bench and participated in the football program “just because,” but with the “true” starting quarterback, Drew Little, benched for violating team rules (whatever that means), Hill had the golden ticket.
I had assumed that the problems at UGA – and, to be fair, many other academic institutions with active athletic programs (thereby excluding Vandy) – were rooted in an inherent corruption that grows from coaches and administrators’ willingness to look the other way while over-feted and unpaid student athletes generally run amuck in a culture that would best be described as toxic.
Athletic directors and coaches are hired and paid exorbitant salaries to win games. Winning athletic programs make money for the schools they represent, through boosters and revenues from merchandising and ticket sales. This encourages administrators to look the other way all the way to the top. If a student athlete commits some small infraction here or there, what of it? If they can run, catch, throw, shoot, etc., then the consequences of their infringement on team rules, school code of conduct or Georgia Code would probably do more harm than good to the institution as a whole.
Coach Curry seemed to be more of a fire-and-brimstone coach. Miss a tackle? Watch him eat a kitten. Personal foul? Two kittens. Excessive celebration? You have to cut open the mamma cat and feed him the barely squirming unborn kittens.
Coach Curry’s going to eat a whole tassel of kittens over this Hill burglary.
This is serious stuff, man. Last season, their presumed starting quarterback, a transfer from Alabama who apparently couldn’t cut it under Coach Curry’s leadership, was late for the team bus, and Curry benched him. God only knows what Little did to get benched from his starting quarterback role for four games, but I’m guessing he didn’t wipe down the bench in the weight room when he was through using it.
So, even in the most rigid and strict of programs, we still find student athletes who are willing to take a chance in committing a crime. Why?
Now, granted, we’re probably jumping to conclusions here. Hill has been arrested, but not convicted, and there’s a possibility that he was not as involved with this as we might initially believe. But, seeing how often it is that these privileged athletes get away with the most heinous of crimes, you’ll understand if I’m slow to give Hill the benefit of the doubt.
Ultimately, these institutions – particularly the public ones – are here to educate us, not entertain us. I, too, loved being able to partake in the Saturday fun last fall, shuttling through channel listings to see if Georgia State’s game was going to be broadcast, following the Georgia State blog on ajc.com and generally being a fan. And I was at the school when the seeds that grew into this football program were sowed, with students themselves banding together to form an informal team, built on the support of their peers because we believed – myself included – that football belonged at Georgia State.
But even if the program generates revenue, I am left to doubt that it’s worth the price.