There have been lots of rumors and innuendos circulating on the internet chat boards surrounding Clifton Geathers’ suspension from the football team following an incident early Sunday morning in the Vista. Many have speculated as to what is a fair punishment when these types of situations take place. Everyone seemingly has his or her own opinion as to what is the “right thing to do.” It is important to understand that the Carolina Athletics Department is very proactive in educating student-athletes from the day they arrive on campus about the consequences for their actions.
First-time student-athletes attend a seminar entitled “Consequences for Your Actions,” which is hosted by Athletics Director Eric Hyman and held on an annual basis. This year, men’s basketball coach Darrin Horn’s keynote message emphasized that it is a privilege and not a right to be an athlete at South Carolina. A video of current student-athletes describing their experiences at Carolina and the importance of taking responsibility for their actions especially as it relates to social networks, was shown. Finally, a panel discussion that included Columbia Chief of Police Tandy Carter, USC’s Director of Judicial Affairs Alisa Cooney, Sergeant Ron Millhouse from the Carolina police department and deputy solicitor John Meadors described what happens if you come into contact with their respective agencies.
Additionally, the football program has had numerous speakers address the team on a regular basis. Already this fall, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, University Police Chief Ernie Ellis, University President Harris Pastides, Athletics Director Eric Hyman and former Gamecock and NFL star Terry Cousin have addressed the squad. Representatives from the NFL and the NFL Players Association have been on campus within the past several months sharing a similar message of doing the right thing and the importance of being positive representatives for the team, the University and the community.
Athletics Director Eric Hyman is directly involved in the process of determining what the future holds for Geathers or, for that matter, any student-athlete who is arrested. That process should not be one that is unfamiliar to Geathers or any other Carolina student-athlete.
When situations arise, such as the recent one with Geathers, the athletics director wants to deal with the current facts as they are available, not rumors. Once he is satisfied that all of the facts are gathered, he will confer with the head coach and the University and base his decision within the University’s guidelines on those facts. The head coach can take more severe action if he or she feels it is necessary. A determination regarding further action by the Athletics Department and the University is made once the charge has been resolved by the court.
The goal at South Carolina remains to be a nationally prominent program that competes for championships, but also a program in which all of the Gamecock Nation can take great pride in how their teams conduct themselves both on and off the field of competition.