Colleges can’t stop the sleaze? Oh, yes they can

AKRON, Ohio – A college football coach can demand his players be on time for a team meeting, but he’s unable to insist that they keep away from strippers during recruiting visits?

Is that what we’re hearing from some colleges?

It’s not naive to believe a young man can decide to attend a college based on a visit where he actually saw the school and talked to teachers and coaches without breaking any laws, getting ridiculously drunk or being entertained by “exotic dancers.”

Someone needs to say that.

The biggest scandal is at the University of Colorado, where three women charge they were raped at a 2001 party for football recruits. A Boulder district attorney claims the football players used sex parties as a way to lure athletes to play for the Buffaloes.

The owner of a Colorado company called Hardbodies says his strippers were hired by Colorado players for recruiting parties only a few weeks ago. The owner said the coaches didn’t know.

Maybe coaches had better start checking, instead of just crossing their fingers and hoping no one gets in serious trouble. Maybe athletic directors should demand their coaches keep the recruits on a tight and sensible schedule.

In Minnesota, there are reports of under-aged recruits being taken to a place called the Deja Vu Nightclub, where they didn’t exactly sit around and sip Pepsi while watching Timberwolves games on big-screen TVs.

Recruiting parties with female “hostesses” have been the norm for decades. Gotta show the boys a good time, right? Or they won’t sign with Good Old State U.

Do you really believe that?

A flustered Colorado coach Gary Barnett told a reporter, “I don’t know how you legislate morality.”

It’s done all the time.

Laws about not stealing, not killing, not raping, not committing incest and many other activities deemed destructive to the common good are attempts to legislate morality.

Barnett needs a better argument than that.

Schools can and should control recruiting visits for their own good and the safety of the players.

It begins with several big-name coaches standing up in public and saying, “I don’t know what’s going on at other programs, but when a young man visits our school, his parents don’t have to worry. Our players have a list of places that are off-limits, activities that won’t be tolerated. If I learn these rules are broken, the players involved are suspended.”

Most parents want to hear this kind of talk, even if their sons don’t. Most coaches will be pressured to follow that lead.

Consider the story of a player named Lynell Hamilton. According to the Stockton Record in California, while on a visit at Oregon, Hamilton said he was offered sex, marijuana and alcohol.

The paper reported that the nation’s seventh-rated running back rejected the party favors. His parents insisted he sign at San Diego State, where the recruiting visit wasn’t an embarrassment.

There is no evidence the Oregon coaches were behind the alleged enticements, and they say they investigated and found no evidence of Hamilton’s claims.

But Hamilton said Oregon was his top choice until the visit, so something happened. He also said he was offered alcohol and sex on other recruiting trips. In his freshman year at San Diego State, he rushed for 1,087 yards.

Not enough athletic programs are setting clear boundaries about what should be done on recruiting visits. Players are suspended if they fail to meet academic standards, or break team rules having to do with skipping practices or disrespecting coaches.

Why can’t the same discipline be applied when the recruits come to town?