EDITORIAL: WKU needs to standardize policies when disciplining athletes, coaches

Nov. 18, 2011 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

The Issue: Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will coach in WKU’s remaining two games against North Texas and Troy after being arrested early last Saturday morning in Baton Rouge, La. for driving while intoxicated. Athletics Director Ross Bjork promised a “stern” punishment for Guidry moving forward, suggesting the act could result in a pay cut or a limit on out-of-state recruiting.

Our Stance: WKU’s athletic department lacks standardized policies when it comes to disciplining athletes and coaches, as evidenced by how Guidry’s DWI was handled as compared to various student-athletes. WKU athletics is also sending the wrong message by favoring winning over morals and taxpayer money. That money pays — at least in part — for a coach who was arrested on a business trip after failing a field sobriety test and having a blood alcohol content of 0.123. Yet Guidry coached the very same day.

Remember in October when sophomore running back Antonio Andrews posted a series of tweets criticizing WKU’s fan base? This was a non-criminal act, but he was still suspended a game. Two other Toppers, junior receiver Dexter Haynes and sophomore receiver Courtney Dalcourt, were both suspended two games this season for a violation of team rules. To the Herald’s knowledge, their actions were also both non-criminal.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said that not suspending Guidry didn’t send any sort of mixed message to players. How could it not when  student-athletes have been suspended for non-criminal actions?

Why is it that when one of the football coaches gets a DWI — a risk to the general public — he gets no suspension whatsoever? To add, Bjork continues to evade what exactly Guidry’s “stern” internal punishment entails. 

How can the athletic department expect the WKU and Bowling Green communities not to be angry when people don’t even know what repercussions with which Guidry will be presented? Otherwise, there’s no way to know whether the punishment fits the crime, or if Guidry’s being treated differently than athletes.

“There’s zero tolerance from here on and our entire staff understands that this cannot happen again to our football program,” Taggart said.

Why wasn’t there a zero tolerance policy from the beginning?

Maybe there are ways other than a suspension or firing to discipline Guidry, but WKU has left itself open to criticism by handling the matter internally. The Herald doubts many Kentuckians like knowing that their money goes to a coach who gets arrested for a DWI, and that a publicly funded institution won’t explain the actions taken.

Taggart himself said he handles matters such as this on a case by case basis, but there shouldn’t be an apparent double standard for coaches and athletes. Everyone in the athletic department should adhere to the same policies and standards.

Until then, Bjork and company will continue making up the rules as they go.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.