Athletes could mar USF’s image

It was not disappointing to see the Bulls lose., nor see the Bulls collapse in the second half. But it was very disappointing to see the conduct of the Bulls players on the field, piling up penalty yardage at an alarming rate.

The team fought hard and, like the Oklahoma game last season, proved they could compete with the nation’s best at a high level. But when the Bulls lost momentum and the depth of Alabama began to tell, it was depressing to watch their attitude fade. This episode is the latest in a series of incidents that has plagued the athletic program as a whole.

As the public profile of USF and its athletic program grows, students want the nation to see USF as a class act. But with the myriad of immature personal foul penalties against the Bulls on national television, the picture being painted is that of an undisciplined collection of athletes. So maybe Alabama had the Bulls’ number Saturday. It would have been ideal for the Bulls to go down fighting clean and not scrapping with the Alabama players. The contingent of Bulls’ fans in the stands was a proud sight, but late hits and unnecessary roughness calls were wholly unimpressive.

The football team is not the only squad bending the rules. Last season was a nightmare for the men’s basketball team. The supposed team leader, Will McDonald, was arrested on domestic battery charges. In addition, the NCAA suspended Greg Brittain for academic misconduct, Terrence Leather stormed off the bench after an argument with former head coach Seth Greenberg, and this summer, rising star Yusuf Baker was dismissed for bad grades by incoming head coach Robert McCullum.

The athletic programs are always going to get more attention than the academic and research activities at this university. If USF is going to use athletics as a method of garnering national attention, the athletes will have to behave with more maturity and dignity in the future. The success that the Bulls have had in recent years gives USF an opportunity to permanently etch its name on the national scene, but it is still undetermined how positive that image will be. Ultimately, it is up to the athletic department and the athletes themselves to ensure that USF capitalizes on the chances it is being given to make it a top school.