In May, Virginia Tech football star Marcus Vick was convicted and sentenced to jail time and a fine, after he lured a pair of 14- and 15-year-old girls to his apartment, got them drunk, and compelled them to strip. (Mutual acquaintances assure me that this was hardly an isolated incident. He just got caught on that occasion.) Despite Vick’s conviction, Virginia Tech did nothing. Their football program is such a cash cow, thanks to their new ACC membership, that Vick got a walk, the same as the rest of the football team gets for the rest of their college education. (Campus is thick with teachers who exempt students from tests, papers, deadlines, etc.)
Yesterday, Vick was “suspended indefinitely” from the team. What changed? It would have to be something way more serious than providing alcohol and (allegedly) routinely engaging in statutory rape. Possession of marijuana and speeding. He was suspended from the team solely for possession and speeding. That these are separate punishments stemming from separate incidents are made clear by the timing — Vick’s pair of charges were made known to Virginia Tech just after the school released a statement announcing that Vick’s punishment for the underage drinking and stripping would be a three-game suspension. Note that Vick has not been kicked off of the team, nor has he been kicked out of the school — he has been “suspended indefinitely.” Details regarding Virginia Tech’s logic cannot be known — the coach and the director of athletics are refusing to comment.
In today’s Roanoke Times (which began, mysteriously, to be delivered to my front door on Monday), writer Aaron McFarling declares that “Marcus Vick has to go”:
Vick’s name should be erased from the Hokies’ roster, creating space for someone who has a little more respect for himself and the university he represents.
Although Vick deserves most of the criticism here, he has company. Tech’s athletic administration botched this situation badly from the beginning and is now paying a heavy public-relations price.
Only now is [Athletic Director Jim] Weaver beginning to act. The backtracking began Tuesday afternoon when Weaver released a statement announcing three-game suspensions for Vick, Brenden Hill and Mike Imoh because of the earlier incident in Blacksburg. He also suspended Vick indefinitely for his latest arrest. You’re getting warmer, Mr. Weaver, but you still don’t get it.
As of today, Vick is still a Hokie, and he shouldn’t be. Talent level shouldn’t matter. Surname shouldn’t matter. Even court findings should be immaterial. This should be a judgment call made in the best interests of a university’s image. And an easy one at that.
I’m not sure who the bigger fool is — Marcus Vick, or Virginia Tech’s administration. One of them has to go.