Why is Tyler Bray still on scholarship at the University of Tennessee?
In the span of less than a month, Bray has been charged with throwing beer bottles at two students' cars and behaving recklessly on a personal watercraft.
A scholarship of any kind should be a privilege. That's especially true with the scholarship is a full ride to a major university, one with enrollment standards so high that good students are denied admission.
Sadly, we know the answer to the leading question.
Bray is still on scholarship because a) he's the Volunteers' starting quarterback and b) the man who should kick him off the team, Derek Dooley, is on borrowed time as the Vols' coach.
Mark Richt kicked Isaiah Crowell off the team for similarly stupid and irresponsible behavior. The only differences are that Crowell, a former Carver High standout, was one of many running backs at Georgia, while Bray is the starting quarterback, and Richt already has learned the hard way that being lax on discipline can hinder job security more than enhance it.
But, you may say, Crowell illegally possessed a gun, which is a felony. Well, yeah, legally speaking, that was a much worse offense. But Bray endangered more people than did Crowell. Bray's behavior was more reckless. If Crowell had registered and displayed the gun lawfully, he wouldn't have been arrested. In fact, in some states, he wouldn't have had to do even that much.
Say what you want about Crowell's actions. Foolish? Careless? Senseless? Yes, yes and yes.
But malicious? Not even slightly.
Bray's actions were all of the above, plus reckless and malicious.
Dooley found them
Apparently both. Not only was Bray not even suspended for a game but Dooley found something amusing about the beer bottle incident.
"Obviously, his accuracy isn't where it needs to be. He missed the trash can."
Dooley called it "silly prepubescent behavior." Prepubescent? Bray is 21 years old. Maybe his mom should take him to the pediatrician.
The root of the problem isn't Bray or even Dooley. Rather, the root of the problem is that for far too long, university big wigs -- presidents, regents and trustees, athletics directors and various other administrators -- have compromised, or just flat out ignored, ethics, integrity, character and discipline for the sake of winning and, more importantly, generating revenue to build more buildings on campus.
LSU coach Les Miles just kicked perhaps his best player, Tyrann Mathieu, off the team for an undisclosed team violation. But before anyone applauds Miles for taking the moral high road, remember that Miles, unlike Dooley, is not under any pressure about losing his job this season.
In light of some of the more egregious behavior of other college athletes, one might view Bray's actions as relatively harmless. But that merely underscores the problem.
Exactly what does it take for a college athlete to lose his or her scholarship?
The answer: Depends on how much money that player will bring into or cost the university.
Two years ago, two football players from Columbus, Kyle Griswould and John Drew, were kicked off the Duke team for firing a gun into the air. The district judge, David Labarre, said of Griswould, "It's a heavy price to lose because of stupid conduct, but this is stupid conduct. So, he's off the ball team. He's lost his scholarship."
It was such a steep price that Griswould wound up at Middle Tennessee State. On scholarship. On the roster.
The smaller programs are just as guilty. They are eager to take on some other school's castoff, all in the spirit of giving a young person a second chance -- and filling a need at left tackle.
When will it end? When university leaders remember their mission of higher education.
In other words, don't hold your breath.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.