- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

The basketball players at St. Bonaventure have nothing but quit in them.
They even voted on it to make it official.
The poor things.
When the going got tough, they went into the fetal position with two games left in the regular season.
Most teams check out on a loss. The Bonnies checked out with a white flag.
They have the heart of the Tin Man.
Theirs was an expression of solidarity with Jamil Terrell, who landed at St. Bonaventure on the strength of a welding certificate from Coastal Georgia Community College. A laugh track probably accompanied his transcripts.
Terrell was a multi-dimensional player. He could put the ball in the basket or fuse the rim to the backboard.
When he was on fire, it usually was because he was melting metal.
The Franciscans apparently consider this a form of higher education. They must draw the line with a cement-pouring certificate.
Even the Harrick family, father and son, would not try to pass off a welder as a beacon of academic integrity, although their latest blow to education was a good one. It was a course on basketball coaching. Attendance was optional. A no-show, an ex-player named Tony Cole, claimed he earned an "A" in the course, undoubtedly by mental telepathy.
The fiasco at St. Bonaventure is deep stuff even by the subterranean standards of Division I basketball.
The fun came to a halt after the NCAA suits studied Terrell's welding certificate and decided he was ineligible, which resulted in the Bonnies forfeiting six victories and being banned from the Atlantic 10 tournament.
The Bonnies believed this to be unfair. They obviously don't know unfair.
If a basketball penalty is the worst thing that ever happens to them, they have the game of life beat.
The embarrassment leads to the top. The school president, Robert Wickenheiser, who should know better, signed off on the welder. This begs a follow-up question. Would he have signed off on a person with a lawn-mowing certificate?
The cash-giving alumni are bound to be disturbed by the revelation. Now they can't hang their diploma on the wall out of fear of the following observation: "I see you went to the welding school. How nice."
Wickenheiser tried to hold off the criticism that led to him being shown the door. Not even a welder could secure the door against the outside forces.
Wickenheiser's blind spot possibly was encouraged by a son, an assistant coach in the basketball program. The president has a lot of explaining and packing to do.
A scholarship is an awful thing to waste on a welder, and nothing against welders. You need welders to strengthen structures. You also need trash collectors. This is not to give St. Bonaventure anymore bright ideas.
Being accepted into an institution of higher learning is supposed to mean something. At St. Bonaventure, it means you have a certificate in welding and an interest in basketball.
There is nothing like a welding-certificate scandal to curb the fund-raising spirit.
It is hard to donate money to a school that insults everyone's intelligence on a number of levels. If you are going to be careless around the rules, do it the old-fashioned way. Admit a recovering rapist into your program and call it a second chance on life. Everyone gets weepy around recovering rapists.
Instead, St. Bonaventure employed the newfangled welding-certificate trick.
Maybe it is a Catholic thing. Maybe Bonaventure is the patron saint of welding.
You know how it is with Catholics. They are apt to make anyone a saint, so long as he is not one of the priests who gets hot under the collar around altar boys. In that case, they just pay the hush money and move the priests to another parish, which is different from Wacko Jacko. He pays the hush money and then undergoes another nose job. He is running out of nose, the A-10 is running out of sympathy.
The Bonnies quit on the conference. Now the conference is liable to quit on them. It would serve the Bonnies right.
It seems everybody wants to be a protester nowadays, whether it is in support of Saddam or a welder.
They don't seem to have a clue at St. Bonaventure, only the capacity to make one bad decision after another. They could use a new president and a new athletic mission.
A decision to move to the non-scholarship ranks of Division III probably would help all those involved rediscover the joy of playing a game for the pure sake of competing.

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