The arrest this week of three University of Charleston basketball players is disturbing.

Sure, college kids get in trouble all the time, but these “student athletes” are accused of jumping two men outside a Charleston bar early Sunday morning and robbing them.  Charleston police say Terrell Lipkins, Robbie Dreher and Quincy Washington are also “persons of interest” in the severe beating and robbery of a Boone County man last week.

These are serious crimes, and it’s important to note that the three have a presumption of innocence. Still, this is an embarrassment for the University of Charleston, a respected state institution.

Normally when these kinds of stories break, colleges go into media lockdown.  Schools and coaches have practiced methods of dealing with such controversies.

They say they have no comment or that it’s an internal matter or that they’ll wait until the police finish their investigation. The hypocrisy is that the schools rely upon, and even expect, the press to gush at their success, but then cooperate in a conspiracy of silence at their failures.

For that reason, the response by University of Charleston officials is refreshing and encouraging.

Within hours after the arrests, President Ed Welch had released a categorical statement condemning the alleged crimes, adding that the students had been kicked off the basketball team and out of their residence halls.

Later in the day, Welch and Coach Mark Downey held a no-holds-barred news conference where they answered questions from newspaper, TV and radio reporters.

It was particularly awkward when Downey and Welch had to explain how the school had recruited Dreher, even though he had left Winthrop University after being charged with third-degree criminal conduct.  He later pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and battery.

Welch said the review of Dreher’s background was “much more than we’ve ever done for anyone else we’ve admitted.” (I’m not sure if that’s reassuring or more troubling.)

Both Welch and Downey apologized to the university and the city of Charleston, and Downey took responsibility.

“I’m around these kids quite a bit and I take responsibility,” Downey said.

As he should.  Now he and President Welch need to decide what kind of basketball program they’re going to have to represent their university.

The press conference lasted about a half-hour, with Welch and Downey taking every question.  Welch made sure to ask if the press had any more questions before he left.

You can look at the picture of the two on the Metronews website and see that it was painful and embarrassing for them, but they did it.  They didn’t hide behind a press spokesman or send out a feckless statement.

It’s doubtful colleges and universities across the country took note, and even if they did, most would not be willing to venture from the safe cocoon of “no comment” when bad news breaks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Realistically

    I,ve been very impressed with President Ed Welch of U. of C. He did a magnificent job during the Mountain State University collapse and has handled this situation in an upfront, transparent fashion. Hats off to the man.

  • wirerowe

    Contrast UC's stepping up and taking responsibility with the continuing denial by West Liberty after the incident at the Embassy Suites. Two different situations in severity admittedly but certainly a very different response by the respective administrations.

  • JoeJoe

    These three will get to play all the b-ball they want at Mt. Olive Correctional Center.

  • chas

    Hop : great commentary & A+ to the adm.@ U C ... Hopefully , a LESSON LEARNED .

  • MtnSt8

    Good job U.C. President Welch has done great things with the university and it's his willingness to step up in situations like this that have been a part of that. Coach Downey deserves praise as well for being willing to take the brunt of responsibility for the PR mess these 3 kids have caused. Well played U.C.

    • Paul

      Yes, President Welch has done an excellent job in leading the University of Charleston. As in this case, his openness and honesty with the public continue to be very beneficial to the successful growth of the campus.

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, I noticed that you were VERY careful not to use any wording in your commentary that could even be closely implying that race was an issue in this news story. Good for you, Hoppy!

    I'm afraid that anyone weighing in on this commentary today in a negative way runs the risk of having their owns words twisted by others and in the end, receive accusations of 'racism.' This is why I deleted the vast majority of the first 'draft' of my post and will focus SOLELY on the University's maneuvering of this Public Relations NIGHTMARE:

    "A+" for the U of C's 'official' way of handling the aftermath of the situation. Have to agree with you, Hoppy, there was none of the usual 'song and dance' with the media here. Major NCAA schools should take note on how the U of C did this (but they won't). Credit to President Ed Welch and Coach Mark Downey for stepping up to the forefront and 'owning' it. Obviously, both men MIGHT have thought they had to in order to save their jobs, but still, this is definitely 'not the norm' in the 21st Century media 'Game of Blame' most people play under identical circumstances.

    Bravo to Welch, Downey and the University of Charleston! Well done (at least in the PR department). The other 'dimensions' of this story I will leave for others to critique.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  • TD

    Good on the administration but we hear this phrase all the time, "I take responsibility". Exactly what does that mean? Seems there's never a consequence when someone says that, they just say it and forget about it. Is he going to take care of the victim financially?

    No, it's just phrase people utter that has no meaning.

    • GregG

      I have to agree with you on that one TD. I also get tired of hearing "I take responsibility". Seems when this statement is made, you never hear the party taking the monetary or legal responsibility. Just another PC phrase used to smooth things over.

    • bulldog95

      Yea, didnt see Obama suffer any consequences or Hillary when they said the buck stops here, I take full resoponsibility, blah blah blah about Benghazi.

      • mntnman

        The story is about U of C.

        • bulldog95

          No kidding, but my point is still valid, even if you dont like it.

      • Hop'sHip

        What kind of consequences should they have suffered, dog?

        • bulldog95

          I am not saying that they should have been sent off to the firing squad or anything. But I do agree with what TD and Greg said, people say it, no meaning behind it, and hope it goes away. As far as the consequence, how about being upfront about what happened and taking steps to make sure it doesnt happen again. I heard some of Hillary's comments on capital hill and it was grandstanding at its best.

      • TD

        Unfortunately Bush/Cheney didn't suffer any consequences when they lied every day for a year about WMD in Iraq, some people still think they're fit to lead. Intersting yesteday at the big library dedication the wor Iraq was never mentioned, might show you there just how wrong they got it. I also understand the Mission Accomplished banner isn't in the library.

        blah blah blah

        • JoeJoe

          I have no problem, as most Americans don't, with going into Iraq and capturing, trying, and killing Saddam Huessein. I have no problem with luring 25,000+ jihadists that graduated from al-Qeada camps while Clinton had his head up some interns rear end, and killing them on the battlefield. Just think what this world would have been like with that many jihadists running around loose all over the world and Obama afraid to take it to them on the battlefield. Our Coward-in-Chief, the Drone Warrior. Iraqi civilians? Most of them were killed by their fellow countrymen or fellow Muslims. When you talk about "not fit to lead", the Clintons and the Drone Warrior should be at the very top of the list.

        • bulldog95

          This was about the U of C, not Bush Cheney.
          Seriously though, depending on where you get your information, was Bush lied too, or as I suspect you feel, he lied to us to make billons? Being relegious myself, I suspect that they will suffer the consequences eventually.

        • DonaldB

          Whitewater and Monica-- a lie is a lie and the cover-up is worse than the crime...

        • Mack

          Hey TD! Too bad you didn't catch other networks as they covered the library part about Iraq and WMD. On the other hand, I've not heard Iraq squawking about a nuclear device like N.Korea; nor have I heard of Iraqi planes flying into the old "no-fly zones" that were deemed closed air space prior to the US invasion either! Maybe it wasn't a bad thing to get rid of a bad dictator after all. After reading your "dissing" of Buch/Cheney, should I assume you like Obama? Let's see what he does with the Syrian regime as they now seem to have crossed "his" "Red Line" by using chemical weapons on their own people - (just like Saddam Hussein did)! Your guy may not have the guts!