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Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

College Football
Ohio State AD denies arrests form a pattern

By Newhouse News Service and The Associated Press

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State team-meeting room has signs with quotations from former Buckeyes coaches Paul Brown and Woody Hayes.

Brown: "We are going to be as good a football team as the class of people we are."

Another sign has two quotes from Hayes: "A team is controlled better by attitude than by rules" and "The desire to win is transmitted to team conduct."

Louis Irizarry and Ira Guilford might have read those signs last season, their first playing for the Buckeyes. But on May 1, Irizarry and Guilford are alleged to have kicked and punched a student and taken his wallet.

Their subsequent arrest on charges of robbery, a second-degree felony, met with an immediate suspension from the team and could result in the end of both players' Ohio State careers.

Irizarry remains in the Franklin County Jail because he already was on probation for assaulting three students in a dormitory in October. Guilford didn't participate in spring practice because of what Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel called "departmental policy," which could mean anything from academic to substance-abuse issues.

Why two players with reason to be on their best behavior would participate in any altercation is seemingly as puzzling as why 14 Ohio State players have been arrested in 15 incidents since Tressel's hiring in January 2001.

The charges include felony drug abuse, possession of a concealed weapon, theft, lying to police, assault and numerous alcohol-related charges.

Tressel did not respond to an interview request and has not commented since releasing an initial statement labeling the matter "very serious," one that could lead to Irizarry and Guilford losing "their privilege to play for Ohio State in 2004."

That has been Tressel's consistent strategy, addressing incidents via a prepared text and then declining further comment.
 
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"He's certainly not going to hold a press conference every time something happens," Buckeyes athletic director Andy Geiger said. "I don't have a problem with it."

Geiger does take issue with any characterization of the 14 player arrests as either a pattern or a preventable problem. He also chafes at the attention such matters receive.

"I guess I'm not understanding the whole concept," Geiger said. "What these kids did, egregious as it was, didn't merit being the lead story of the whole weekend. ... (Reporters) act like you want us to put the football team in an incubator.

"I don't know how to have (players) be integrated into the life of the university and not integrate them into the life of the university. Some college students drink. I don't know what you want me to do about that. And to compare an open-container violation to an assault and say they're the same thing or associated in any way is, to me, ridiculous. I don't understand the fascination by (the media) or the public."

University president Dr. Karen Holbrook, in a statement released through her publicist, said the school "will not tolerate violent behavior from any member of the university community. It will be dealt with swiftly and decisively, as in this case. I continue to have full confidence in Andy Geiger and Jim Tressel and in the integrity of the program they are running."

So does Chris Spielman, a former All-American linebacker at Ohio State who is an ESPN analyst and hosts a sports-talk show in Columbus. But Spielman said the abundance of incidents might justify some harsher consequences.

"I don't think it's too much to ask a kid when he walks on campus not to break the law," Spielman said.

"I understand that mistakes are made and second chances are given, but if others aren't learning from the mistakes of others, maybe the discipline needs to be a little stronger."

Notes

• Attorneys for two alleged rape victims asked a federal judge in Denver to force the University of Colorado to hand over information about alleged sexual misconduct by players.

• The Atlantic Coast Conference has requested proposals from nine cities to host its championship game, which begins in 2005.

Jacksonville, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Orlando, Fla., are considered among the top candidates.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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