- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The college basketball nitwits who preen on the sidelines contributed to the death of Patrick Dennehy.

They have created this rotten system that accepts nearly everyone, even the unstable, so long as the person is athletically gifted.

They have whined and waged protests and pushed their self-serving agendas before a mostly compliant national press.

They have objected to the most basic academic standards, spinning their outlandish justifications under the guise of social work.

You see, they want to save lives.

They want to provide this or that street urchin with a second or third chance, or with however many chances are necessary.

No, he is a “good kid.” You always hear that. No, really, he is a “good kid.”

You just have to reach out and get to know him. You just have to show him a better way.

Yes, he did have that tiny legal matter in high school, where he accosted a girl and forced her to perform oral sex. But that was a small misunderstanding, and it is in the past, and, hey, we all make mistakes.

Right. We all make mistakes.

Some of us incur the occasional speeding ticket and some of us force women to satisfy our sexual urges.

This is the thinking of a rotten system. It is a system built on lies and greed. It is a system that might as well have an open-admission policy for athletes.

As it is, the minimum standards, whenever they are tweaked in the slightest, only elicit more crying from the coaches.

You just might be a racist if you believe in the value of the SAT.

Otherwise, the SAT is culturally biased, racially biased, perhaps even environmentally biased, not to mention mean-spirited, vindictive and an indication of nothing, especially for those whose minds go blank after signing their names.

Some students just do not test well. You know that.

Other students do not have the same opportunity as others. You know that as well.

We must save them all if they are tall or run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. We must keep hope alive, because helping others is what it is all about, along with giving back to the community.

Well, you open your academic doors to the riffraff and you get what you get.

You get those who commit the garden-variety police-blotter stuff and you get the football player who relates to his girlfriend by dragging her down the stairs by her hair. You also get the athletes who rape and pillage the community and you get the sad-sack dimwits who do not even belong in college and would not be in college if it were not for the academic tutors who do their work.

So now you have Dennehy’s badly decomposed body being found outside Waco, Texas, and you have a teammate who has been charged with the murder, and you have a coach who is trying to cover his backside, and you have one more sad symbol of a twisted system.

It did not have to be. It did not have to come down to cadaver-sniffing dogs and a six-week search.

In a system that does not mock the student-athlete concept, the accused possibly never would have qualified to attend Baylor.

The accused was not necessarily Baylor material in the old-fashioned sense, as each new revelation trickles into public view.

He was a product of the junior-college ranks, consigned there after high school because of some academic deficiencies. But why quibble with the quality of an athlete’s transcripts?

As Dexter Manley once pointed out, he could not read any better than your family mutt and he was able to stay eligible in college.

The accused had a number of issues, as problems are euphemistically called by the milquetoast ninnies in academia.

He had a bad marriage, a disappointing basketball career, and a tendency to hear voices and have visions, which led to concerns about his mental health. He attended a few sessions of therapy, but that did not really resolve anything.

Anyway, the estranged wife of the accused said he also was fond of the hemp plant.

The emerging picture of this so-called “student-athlete” is not pretty.

Let’s add it up: a JUCO layover, a failed marriage, a propensity to hear voices and have visions and the hemp plant.

The accused sounds like a perfect candidate to do one of those NCAA-sponsored commercials, imploring the gullible to attend Baylor, where you can smoke some weed, shoot a few hoops and guns and just hang out and chill.

Of course, the Baylor coach knows nothing about nothing, and certainly nothing about drug use, or anything else.

But you should consider the source. This is a coach with a dead man on his roster. This just might hurt Baylor’s basketball chances in the Big 12 next winter.

The school president spoke of the “unspeakable grief” on campus. This is just great. There is “unspeakable grief” at Baylor. Call out the grief counselors. Don’t these college pinheads make you sick?

Where is the outrage?

Where is the podium-thumping passion that anyone in the real world might feel following a senseless murder?

Oh, sorry. Forgot.

This is your cue to say that the games merely reflect the society around it.

That is a good one.

Hard as it is to believe, however, there was a time when athletes were held to a higher standard than those around them. Now athletes are held to hardly any standard at all, and certainly far below the standard of the average college student.

Some of these smug, so-called elite institutions have one set of standards for the athletically challenged and the old scrawl-your-name standard for the athletically gifted.

You should hear some of their rationalizations. No, on second thought, you do not want to go there.

This, too, would make you sick.

People are looking for answers at Baylor now, vowing to uncover all the details.

But it is a little late for that.

Dennehy is dead, and his family is hurting.

You can’t even begin to imagine the pain this family is feeling.

You send your son off to school and he comes home in a box.

What is it all about again?

Right. Baylor wanted to win a few more basketball games.

So come on down and visit the Baylor campus. The coaching staff will show you a good time and make all your problems go away.

This is the pitch of all coaching staffs.

Then one day, almost inevitably, a school awakens to a scandal or, in Baylor’s case, to something far worse.

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