DePaoli: Cal U administration has golden opportunity to take a tough stand and change their athletic culture

medium_cal-vulcans When I heard about six Cal U football players nearly beating a man to death last week, it was shocking to me since I grew up in that town where we never locked our doors, had a low crime rate even with thousands of students, and this type of thing never happened, plus I am a Cal U alum. On the other hand, with the way the football culture is these days, I guess it wasn’t all that shocking.
The most despicable part is that these thugs were reportedly yelling “football strong”, clearly identifying themselves as football players with no regard for the unconscious person lying on the sidewalk as they ran away.
The University President absolutely made the right decision in cancelling Cal U’s football game last weekend and I applaud the administration for taking a strong stand, but the sanctions need to be taken a step further.
This was a horrific crime by a gang of despicable people, not a one on one bar fight or a casual group of students going out for some food who made a mistake, therefore a bigger statement needs to be made. With more and more information coming out in the media it’s obvious the leaders of that program are not putting enough thought in to bringing quality people to the school and the community, but rather are just bringing in athletes with no regard to character, nor are they concerned with the spiraling negative and criminal behavior from those in the program as a whole.
The leaders at the top need to be held responsible and take the fall for this and that is the head coach. Yes, the head coach did inherit some of the problems from his predecessor who perhaps started this D-I transfer-student train of criminals, but that excuse only lasts so long and obviously these players don’t think much of the head coach either, or the team, or the school, otherwise they would have had more sense than to participate in such a horrible act. What happened to the days when players looked after each other and policed themselves to stop something from getting out of hand.
Since 2012, a reported 20 Cal U Football players have been arrested. There’s no argument that can be made where the head coach should keep his job. This is not Division-I football where you overlook those things.
The athletic culture, but more prominently the football culture everywhere is a problem from the professional ranks to high schools, but getting out of Division II could be a start for Cal. What has become a problem in recent years for Cal U and other D-II schools is that they have become a landing spot for troubled Division I players who get kicked off D-I programs, mainly because of off-field issues. By going to D-III, the school will not only save a ton of money, but they will also have a greater chance of weeding out the thugs. Let them go be someone else’s problem.
There’s always going to be students who make bad decisions whether it’s an NCAA or club sport athlete, to fraternities and just the regular students, and it’s tough to make a decision to penalize all the other players and students groups involved in the football games, but maybe the focus should be on just having a competitive football team while bringing in people of character, who at the very least should be monitored and held accountable when they do screw up and are focused on education first, football second.
This hurts not only the football team, but the entire University and Borough community. California was a good place to be raised and the University with its small classrooms and great extracurricular programs benefited me greatly and it’s extremely disappointing athletes being given big amounts in scholarship dollars cannot be held more accountable by those giving them all those dollars, academic assistance, housing, etc., and all the other perks of being an NCAA athlete.
It’s time for the Cal U administration to take a stand and the administration has a great opportunity to be the first University in the area or the PSAC to have the guts to change their athletic culture, and it starts with football but also goes beyond. As a former alum, I hope to see the University and local officials make it a top priority to make Cal U and the Borough a safer and better place again, and making major changes to the football program would be a great start.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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