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Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Rice’s Hatfield
setting good example


RICE football coach Ken Hatfield must be one in a million.

Yes, the wishbone was all the rage in the late '60s, through the '70s, even at Oklahoma into the '80s. But in this new century, Hatfield is one of the few guys still hanging on.

And that's nothing. Now this, according to an Associated Press story:

"Before (recruits) go out," Hatfield said, according to AP, "we want to say, 'Here's where you can go; here's where you can't go.' If he's not willing to sign it, I'm not willing to have him on my campus."

Incredible.

Making an "off-limits" list -- making the guys sign a statement promising to be good -- when you turn them loose (for a night on the town with their prospective teammates) on a recruiting visit? Are you kidding?

Don't you know how these things work? What about the party?

That's got to take you off a few high school seniors' top-five lists.

Maybe Hatfield, who has had quite a career in stops at Air Force, Arkansas and Clemson, and has the legacy to afford to make a stand like this, figures, what the heck.

His school has incredibly high academic standards. Up until a few days ago it was openly talking about giving up athletics altogether. He has to play in the Western Athletic Conference (for another year, at least). He runs the most un-pro offense known to man.

He's not exactly competing with the Miamis and Florida States of the world for blue chips.

What does he have to lose?

You would think that anyone who would balk at acting like a gentleman on a recruiting trip probably won't be going to Rice, anyway.

Rice is a school where recruits actually want a tour of the library.

Still, it's a nice symbolic gesture. Good to see. A smart move by a smart school. Good move by a good man.

And as it came yesterday in a Knight Commission meeting on reforming college sports (and in the wake of yet another scandal, in part a recruiting one, now with a grand jury, at Colorado), it may be a sign of a trend to come.

The party's over. Soon recruiting won't be any fun at all.

What in the names of Pinto, Flounder and Boone is going on here?

Don't worry. Unseemliness will seep its way back in soon enough. Already, in Colorado, it looks like most of the major players will be "cleared," could very well keep their jobs. Party on.

This is a place where Dick Tharp is not only the athletic director, but, according to the Rocky Mountain News, also "part owner of Boulder's largest liquor store."

Seriously.

Of course the backlash will mean more policies like Hatfield's. That's a shame, but apparently a necessary one.

Nobody's Dean Wormer here. But it's good somebody -- Hatfield -- has taken some responsibility.

Here's hoping he isn't the lone voice in the wilderness on this one, the last coach running an option offense in a modern world. College sports need courage these days. They need strong moral stands. Even when they come from Rice.



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

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