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Column: Fair punishment? by Jason Jacobs, Mouth from the South

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This past weekend, as I am sure most of you have seen by now, there was a huge brawl during the Miami-Florida International (FIU) college football game.

What you may not know is what has come as a result of the brawl.

Eighteen FIU players were given one-game suspensions by the Sun Belt Conference, but the school added to the punishments by kicking two players off the team and suspending the other 16 indefinitely.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) handed out one-game suspensions to 13 players, all of which remained the same after review by the University of Miami, except for one player.

Safety Anthony Reddick was suspended indefinitely for taking off his helmet during the brawl and using it as a weapon, hitting other players on the field.

University of Miami President Donna Shalala said that the suspensions were fair, justified and strong enough to satisfy the university.

To me, the reaction by the University of Miami is utterly ridiculous, especially when you take into account what else Shalala has said the past few days.

In a press conference Tuesday she said, "I actually did not look at the tape," claiming that she was at the game and seeing it as it happened was good enough.

In the same press conference she also said, "The buck stops here," and on ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" radio show Wednesday she said, "We went through frame by frame," implying she did watch the tape and she has the final say in any further punishments.

She later clarified that other members of the administration, such as the Athletic Director, viewed the tape but she, in fact, had not.

Can we actually believe that anyone with the final say in punishments can act without taking at least a second look at what actually took place and judging what is indeed fair?

I think not.

Another Miami safety, Brandon Meriweather, can clearly be seen, on tape, repeatedly stomping on FIU players' legs.

His punishment remained at a one-game suspension while Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth received a five-game suspension for doing the same thing, although he did stomp on another player's head.

But the fact remains that the punishment for Meriweather's actions is far too lenient.

The suspended Miami players will miss this week's game against Duke, a perennial whipping boy for the rest of college football.

Some punishment.

Most of these players likely only would have played just a half of the game due to the huge possibility of a blowout.

The University of Miami has now enacted a "zero tolerance" policy stating that any player who, from this point, fights in a game will be dismissed from the team.

If it is good enough for future players, it should be good enough for current players.

Maybe not all the players should be kicked off the team, but the University of Miami should have followed in FIU's footsteps and suspended all these players indefinitely.

There is a history of less than exemplary conduct from football players at the University of Miami, and history continues to repeat itself as each time the players are essentially let off the hook.

History will continue to repeat itself unless the University of Miami makes a serious statement. "Zero tolerance" is a strong statement, but it is very limited in this situation.

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