I’m a Griz fan. I love the athleticism and I love the spectacle. Griz football is the biggest show in the state.
But, the shine of the University of Montana’s athletic program has certainly started to tarnish. This week, recent Griz star Cody Von Appen, was arrested and jailed for a second assault on a fellow student. The first incident was in September and was captured on a dormitory surveillance camera. Now Von Appen, son of a former Grizzly assistant coach, is accused of a second assault allegedly occurred outside a UM fraternity on Nov. 2.
The question remains why it took a district court judge to bar Von Appen from campus after the first attack. As Bill Oram, editor of the campus newspaper, points out UM Dean of Students Charles Couture banned a group of UM students from campus after they staged a peaceful sit-in in President George Dennison’s office demanding sweat-free Grizzly apparel. But, when football thugs are caught on camera, they get a free pass and can come back to campus.
This is not an isolated incident. Jimmy Wilson, former UM cornerback, was charged with murder in Los Angeles County this last summer. Jeramy Pate, another former UM running back, received a six-year deferred sentence for drug-related home invasion in which one occupant of the house was repeatedly pistol-whipped and a woman was bound with duct tape. He was one four of former Grizzly football players involved in that incident. Pate, like Von Appen, violated the terms of his parole and was rearrested. Then there’s Qwenton Freeman, .who witnessed a fellow UM player commit murder and then was arrested for his own violent misconduct. Last year, Timothy L. Parks was arrested on charges that he pointed a gun at a woman’s head and slapped her while trying to collect a debt. Offensive lineman J.D. Quinn’s has faced a pair of DUI arrests, as if once wasn’t enough.
These incidents need to stop. Clearly there is a systematic problem that must be addressed by the University. These are not ordinary students. They are ambassadors for our campus and for our state. They are pampered beyond belief and receive every possible advantage while associated with the University. Unfortunately, they return that support with disregard and belligerence.
I suggest they have lost the right to make another mistake. There must be better surveillance and quicker action to prevent any more violence by Griz footballers. The air of entitlement that surrounds some college athletes has to be deflated.
Until coach Bobby Hauck is willing to discuss and deal with this problem in public, then the reputation of the whole university will suffer. Our image will continue to be dragged through the mud. And I fear for the fate of our Grizzly Bear.