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EDITORIAL: Coach’s NCAA misstep careless, unfair to student

USF assistant track and field coach Melissa Miller resigned Tuesday following reports of two NCAA violations.

The University self-reported the offenses, which included Miller telling student athlete Adam Hortian without authorization that she would “highly recommend” him for a graduate assistantship that did not exist.

It is bad enough that a University representative would wrongfully assume authority in matters of recruiting and hiring, but to lure a potential student to an institution under false pretenses is reprehensible.

The graduate assistantship Miller offered included coaching and academic advising work, a $15,000 stipend and a full-time graduate tuition waiver.

Hortian uprooted his life, leaving his home institution in Canada with the expectation that an assistantship awaited him at USF, only to discover the position for which Miller said he was highly recommended had been neither budgeted nor approved for the 2009-10 academic year.

In fact, USF reported that head coach Warren Bye was never informed of Miller’s correspondence with Hortian.

“It was my dream,” Hortian said. “Coach Miller recruited me, but the reason I chose to come here was because of the coaching position. I was told that if I take out a loan for my first year that I would be offered the G.A. coaching position in my second year.”

Although Miller did not explicitly promise anything, she unfairly and entirely misled Hortian.

He and his family received detailed descriptions of the position – its requirements, responsibilities and compensation – and it was the deciding factor in his decision to come to USF.

“I saw this as a way for me to fulfill a dream of mine,” Hortian said. “I was heartbroken when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to coach.”

Even if one were to grant Miller the benefit of the doubt that she did not intentionally or maliciously mislead Hortian, she is responsible.

She should have made absolutely sure that any offer she posed to a potential student was feasible.

Further, she should have known she was unauthorized to make such offers, especially without consulting with the head coach.

Ultimately, the University’s reporting of the violations was a responsible one, and Miller’s dismissal would have been the only appropriate alternative to her resignation.