Earlier today Dianne Murphy and I wrote a letter to the University community. This is my opportunity to share my personal thoughts on my blog.
I am offended and disappointed with the remarks made by our players online. This is not who we are.
Right now I’m concerned with who is just saying incredibly inappropriate things and who has a real social problem. The outcome is the same, the perception is the same, but my concern is the cure may not be the same. I want to cure this illness. There is no place for it on our team or anywhere else. I will not single out anyone; that has already been done. The actions of a few affect everyone who touches this program. When the headline reads “A Columbia Football Player”, that includes everyone.
Obviously we have addressed the players and their twitter accounts. It is not the first time we have addressed this issue. We met as a team during training camp, and were very clear about our expectations and standards. The team was addressed by the sports information staff. I was present and signed off on the presentation. The majority of the team understood, and did, what they were asked to do. Others did not. I didn’t feel that it was necessary to check back that our players understood our expectations for them. Obviously, I was wrong.
The inappropriate nature of the comments is second to the motivation and social perspective that generated them. I really think there are two issues here; the response to each should be different. There are circumstances here that are important to keep in mind. While there is a penalty component to these actions, there is an educational component as well.
Regarding the offensive tweets: some of these statements were made before these players were part of our team. It would seem that our team meetings concerning appropriate use of social media and being responsible members of the University community were effective with those young men. Some of these tweets were made by players, that for reasons other than this particular incident, are no longer on this team. Finally, there are some players that are a part of our team and therefore warrant our immediate, and from this point on, ongoing attention.
I do not believe that it is my place – or that of anyone at the University – to monitor everything our players say privately or publicly. I thought that I could expect our players to use much greater responsibility in how they speak and act. This is what is so disappointing to me.
I want to make sure whatever action we take is meaningful. I believe we can and should address this from a team wide perspective in addition to dealing with individual cases. There are programs that address and educate on these types of issues. I am reluctant to use a “cookie cutter” approach. I want to find the most effective program I can. I want there to be a human element to these actions. Respect is born from humility. Obviously in some cases we have lacked both. As individuals we need to interact with, or directly involve ourselves with, the community of people to whom we have shown such insensitivity. That will be far more effective than a lecture program. I am currently in the process of making sure that happens. Finally, I have taken disciplinary action in cases that I feel involve a legitimate social issue as opposed to the immaturity and bad judgment that goes along with making highly inappropriate and disrespectful statements.
I apologize to the Columbia community for this embarrassment. Some will see this as a referendum on our entire team. What I say or do will not change their opinion, and that is alright. I am more concerned with this program’s responsibility to produce young men that reflect the values of the Columbia community as a whole. I have said before that our program will ultimately be judged by the kind of people we send out into the world. I remain committed to that statement. If we do the things to make sure that happens, the rest will take care of itself.