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A Letter to The CSU Community From Director of Athletics Jack Graham

CSU Athletic Director JackGraham
YouTube/Colorado State University

A couple weeks ago 3 CSU football players were arrested after an off-campus fight.  Those 3 players have since been kicked off the football team and now face charges in the case.  Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham composed a response to the matter and shared it with CSU faculty, Staff, and Students and CSU Ram fans.  We are going to share that letter with you in it entirety. 

To the CSU Community:

Recent events involving a few of our football players are disturbing and unacceptable. It is important you hear personally from me about the standards to which we hold our student-athletes.

First, an update. As has been widely reported already, there was an off-campus fight a couple of weeks ago between a group of CSU football players and some other CSU students in which the level of violence exerted by the players was beyond anything that could be considered reasonable. As a result, three of our players have been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

As AD, I want to make it absolutely clear that we have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior by our student athletes. Our football coaches led by Coach McElwain cooperated fully with the police investigation and we acted immediately to suspend the players from the team indefinitely-a suspension that is now permanent. The resulting criminal charges were determined by the Larimer County

District Attorney based on an investigation by the Fort Collins Police. While some of you have expressed concern to me that the charges don’t seem appropriate, I can only refer those concerns to the DA.

What I can say from the CSU perspective is that these players are also subject to the CSU Student Conduct process, which assesses whether they have violated the student code of conduct. Independent of any criminal charges, violations of the student conduct code canlead to sanctions up to and including expulsion from the university, depending on the severity of the offense and whether it is part of a pattern of behavior. The Department of Athletics is fully supportive of the University’s processes for addressing this type of incident, and while the results of such processes are typically not public, there is an exception when the allegations concern violence, including assault offenses. For that reason, I am able to report now that players Mike Orakpo, Nordly Capi, and Colton Paulhus have been expelled from Colorado State, effective Monday May 7. Althoughthere is an appeal process, expulsion in our Student Conduct Code means permanently removed from the University (they have been prohibited from coming on campus since the incident occurred).

I also want to address another disturbing finding in the Fort Collins Police report that steroids and marijuana paraphernalia were found in the residences of two of the players. I cannot guarantee that our student-athletes will not use illegal substances, whether recreational or performance enhancing-I wish I could. I can tell you, however, that I am committed, as are all of our coaches and Athletic Department staff, to drug-free athletics and athletes.

All of our student-athletes are subject to year-round mandatory and random drug testing by the NCAA. They conduct tests on approximately 10% of our student-athletes between one and three times annually. Immediately after I began my work as Athletic Director, I took steps to implement additional biweekly tests conducted by CSU that involve about 8% of our athletes in each testing session, which is well above the norm relative to other universities. The consequences for testing positive to drugs or to masking agents (we test for that too) are harsh. It is unlikely an athlete will survive at Colorado State if he/she chooses to take drugs, and I can promise you that such behavior will in no way be tolerated or abetted.

With all these issues coming up at this time, I want to restate very clearly that CSU Athletics is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in all aspects of our competition. Our coaches – all of them – are committed to recruiting student-athletes who:

(i) Have strong character;
(ii) Have academic capabilities that give us high confidence theywill succeed and graduate; and
(iii) Are great athletes.

We make decisions to offer scholarships in that order. An athlete who does not clear our character and academic standards, regardless of their athleticism, will not be offered a scholarship.

We want to win at Colorado State – we will win at Colorado State – but not at any cost. There are very clear ethical lines that we will always honor. On April 22, all student-athletes, coaches and members of the Athletic Department met with me to discuss the expectations we have of each other with regard to behavior and citizenship. We agree we must be held to a higher standard because we are highly visible representatives of our University. It is essential that we represent Colorado State as great people, great students and great athletes.

Virtually every student-athlete and coach is horrified, angry and embarrassed by the actions of these few. With me, our student-athletes and coaches have accepted responsibility for these actions and for doing all we can to root out this behavior to the extent it may still exist.

There is another aspect to this story that was highlighted in the police report but not mentioned in the media accounts: Two of our other players not only attempted to break up the fight but apologized to the other students at the scene and refused to get back in the car with the players who were involved in the fight. They were straight-forward with their coaches and the police about what happened despite considerable peer pressure to behave otherwise. Just as we may want to condemn the students involved in the fight, we also need to acknowledge and give credit to those who made the right choices under very tense circumstances. It is these students who set the standard for CSU athletics, and these are the students who have earned and deserve our support.

You have my word our athletes will continue to be held accountable to represent our University in ways that always make us proud that we are Colorado State University Rams.

Jack Graham
Director of Athletics
Colorado State University

 

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