This weekend represented the third reported incident of violence involving Youngstown State University football players this year. In February, two assaults occurred at fraternity houses. One resulted in charges against a football player. The player allegedly involved in the other assault was not charged.
When The Jambar reported the story, we heard about other incidents allegedly involving rambunctious drunken football players disrupting parties. These incidents did not result in service calls to the police, so they are unconfirmed.
The following weekend, a fight broke out at an apartment on the north side that former players said functioned as a football house. Police responded to the scene, but no arrests were made.
It looked like there might be a trend of incidents involving football players. This weekend, with two players arrested for firing a gun from a car on the corner of Wick and Lincoln Avenues, would seem to reinforce the pattern.
Following the assaults at fraternities in February, a victim reported hearing gunshots as a car drove away. A separate report filed by police officers confirmed the report.
We don’t want to paint the football team with too broad a brush. The majority of football players are well-behaved, admirable student-athletes. But a pattern of alleged incidents — three confirmed by police and two resulting in charges against three players — suggests the need for preventative action.
If the players aren’t able to police themselves, maybe a stricter policy needs to be put into place by their superiors.
Under former coach Eric Wolford, football players were expected to represent the university well. Wolford reportedly discouraged players from going to bars downtown, attending parties or drinking in public.
Since Bo Pelini assumed the role of head coach, players have been observed drinking downtown with greater frequency. They have also been spotted at fraternity parties.
The university pours a lot of money into athletics and athletic scholarships — some people have argued too much. But they bring a lot of attention to YSU. A lot of people come out to football games every weekend. The university has a stake in their role as athletic ambassadors representing the school.
Maybe a return to Wolford’s stricter policies are needed to make sure the attention players bring to YSU is positive rather than negative. During Wolford’s tenure, run-ins between players and the police were not so frequent. If Pelini relaxed Wolford’s policy, maybe it’s time to tighten it again.
Sure, it would hurt the players who conduct themselves responsibly at bars and parties. But our investment in these student-athletes as a university requires greater oversight, especially given the events that have occurred this year.