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Doing right isn’t brain surgery, it’s heart surgery

April 8, 2013
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor (mmathison@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." - Proverbs 4:23

So, when is the next college scandal?

It's going to come.

Who would have thought that last week would be full of Rutgers basketball, PAC 12 basketball officiating and, at the end of the week, an alleged Auburn academic scandal.

Mike Rice was fired at Rutgers not because of his actions, but because of the national reaction to the video which seemingly was found anywhere at any time.

And, because of what transpired, his three-year tenure at the head coach at Robert Morris will now be scrutinized.

Rice became the Scarlet Knights' head coach in 2010 and was fired last Wednesday after that famous video showed him throwing balls at players, shoving the, grabbing them and using anti-gay slurs.

What everyone also needs to remember is that three years ago, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate made a webcast of him kissing another man.

That roommate was convicted 13 months ago on all 15 charges, including of invasion of privacy and witness tampering.

In a statement after the conviction, Jane Clementi, Tyler's mother read from a statement:

"In this digital world, we need to teach our youngsters that their actions have consequences, that their words have real power to hurt or to help. They must be encouraged to choose to build people up and not tear them down."

What was done at Rutgers had nothing to do with building young men.

It has nothing to do, that far too many think, about the wussification of American youth.

It has everything to do with doing the right thing.

I understand coaching is hard.

I understand the way coaches have to get loud.

I get that.

But, to do what was done on the video is completely unacceptable.

To put your hands on young men in that way in that situation crosses the line in so many ways.

This was not moving a basketball player into the correct position.

This, if done on the nearest street corner, would constitute abuse.

I am all about challenging our youth to be better at everything - whether it be in the classroom, on any athletic field, with their friends and around adults.

I am all about challenging our youth to do something about righting a wrong - to have a positive peer pressure instead of "Go ahead, take this drink."

Rutgers assistant coach Jimmy Martelli, an assistant coach at Robert Morris with Rice, resigned after Rice was fired. Martelli's father, Phil Martelli, is the head coach at St. Joseph's.

"I am sickened that as an assistant coach I contributed in any way to an unacceptable culture," Martelli said in a statement last week in an Associated Press article by Tim Sullivan. "Wednesday, I resigned from Rutgers and I hope that coaches on all levels will learn something important from these events. For my actions, I am deeply sorry and I apologize to the players from the bottom of my heart."

Which begs the question, is he sorry for his actions or is he sorry that his actions were caught on video and released nationally?

On Friday, the scandal came somewhat full circe when Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who chose not to fire Rice on the spot when he viewed the video back at the end of November, resigned, along with Rutgers interim general counsel John Wolf.

"This was a failure of process," Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in an Associated Press story by Tom Canavan.

I am not sure what that is.

I am sure that doing the right thing was not being done on a regular basis inside that gym.

We are all far from perfect and I am at the head of the line.

We all must take a daily look in the mirror and choose to do the right thing.

Doing the right thing is a choice, like actually doing your homework when told.

And, if you wonder why players didn't go forward about this mess at Rutgers, the answer is simple.

If done, there was a really good chance their athletic scholarship would have been pulled for the following year.

The majority of athletic scholarships are one-year academic agreements. That means, at the end of the year, a coach can pull a scholarship for any reason.

Any reason.

This is where adults need to step in and do the right thing.

Rice said it best after being told of his firing that probably worst thing was that he embarrassed his family.

Yahtzee.

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." - Proverbs 15:13

I talked to my best friend from high school the other day. We haven't spoken in some time because life gets in the way.

We talked about our families and how daily life can be a real grind.

We talked about how our sons are far too similar when it comes to school work.

We then talked about all the dumb things we did in high school.

"You know, I still regret quitting basketball my senior year," he said.

Yep, 35 years later, he still regrets quitting.

Even back then, it was a heart issue.

Quitting means you are putting yourself above the rest of the team.

There is a lot to be said about playing on a team.

I understand there are circumstances when turning in your uniform can keep your sanity.

I get it.

But, for the most part, it's just a really dumb decision.

Of course, some decisions are out of the hands of kids and that's even far worse.

"Your attitude is like the aroma of your heart. If your attitude stinks, it means your heart's not right," - coach Grant Taylor in "Facing the Giants."

Curious about this "heart" thing, check on Herod, Lot's wife, Nebuchadnezzar, Abraham and Daniel.

If John Wooden was willing to kick Bill Walton, at the time the best collegiate basketball player in the nation, off the team, then all athletes are game.

Selflessness beats selfishness every time.

The absence of self is wonderful.

Want to read/see about a heart thing, please check out what the Nebraska football team did on Saturday for Jack Hoffman.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com and can be followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike).

 
 

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