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THE COLLEGES / MIKE HISERMAN : CSUN Rule Book Seems to Be Missing a Page on Common Sense

October 13, 1994|MIKE HISERMAN

Rules, rules and more rules. Pages and pages of rules.

Rules on how to dress inside the cafeteria. Rules about uniforms. Warnings about gambling.

Violators of training camp curfew must participate in a "Dawn Fun Run." So it says on the first page of the Cal State Northridge football team handbook.

Must be something on missing practice in here. . . .

Yep, here it is, on Page 6: "You will be responsible to attend all scheduled football events. This includes meetings, practices and contests. . . . "

A pretty good linebacker stumbled over that one. He skipped a practice and was benched for an Oct. 1 home game against Cal State Chico.

You don't blow off practice and get away with it at Northridge. All the players know it.

Maybe that's why one of them showed up for drills on the afternoon of Aug. 29 this year--only hours after his arrest in connection with a double shooting in San Bernardino.

Police say the player shot a security guard and a woman as they sat in a truck outside a bar.

The woman is the player's former girlfriend and the mother of his child. She was struck once in the hip as she tried to flee. Her acquaintance was hit in the arm and chest, a potentially lethal shot that was deflected by a bullet-proof vest.

Jonathan Beauregard was jailed for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon, but within hours he was released on $15,000 bail. The charges later were upgraded to attempted murder with additional special circumstances of using a handgun and inflicting great bodily injury.

He remains free. And he remains a member of the Northridge football team.

Felonies. Isn't there a section on alleged felonies?

Let's see. . . .

You can't leave training meals until you have been excused by a coach. You must bring your playbook and a writing instrument to meetings. Loud music in the locker room is strictly prohibited.

Nothing on felonies.

What the good book does say is that players in "trouble with the law" shall be "presumed innocent until proven otherwise."

Fair enough. But what about deception? Isn't there a section on deception?

The shooting incident occurred on the first day of school. Beauregard, a two-year starter at offensive guard, never told his coaches, teammates or Northridge administrators.

He managed to keep his secret until 12 days ago when Coach Bob Burt was approached outside the Northridge locker room by a reporter who detailed the allegations of the crime.

Burt retreated into the team room, emerging later to say that the player was refusing comment--to the coach and the press--on the advice of his attorney.

That night, Beauregard was in the starting lineup against Chico State. Meanwhile, a linebacker who missed a practice watched from the sidelines dressed in street clothes.

Is there not something skewed about such a scenario?

At some point, common sense surely must override a team handbook. An athlete accused of a felony owes an explanation to his coach and team.

This player chose to remain silent.

Northridge athletic administrators worry that suspending players in such cases might leave the school vulnerable to a lawsuit if they are found innocent.

They can't understand how other schools--a whole bunch of them--can impose sanctions on an athlete who hasn't had his day in court.

Though the term might be debated by some, playing football for the Matadors must still be considered a privilege. It is no person's God-given right to be included as a member of a college athletic team.

With privileges come higher standards. Says so in the team handbook.

Page 6, Section 3: ". . . Your deportment--conduct on campus, on road trips, and in the community--must be better than expected of the regular student."

Break the code and become . . . a regular student. What's wrong with that?

Let Beauregard stay in school. His scholarship should be honored. It's his place on the football team that should be taken.

If nothing else, he has embarrassed coaches and teammates by his deception. Such serious allegations never should have been kept secret.

Ironically, a hand injury is supposed to keep Beauregard sidelined until sometime after his Oct. 19 arraignment. His status with the team beyond that point has not been determined.

Again, the handbook says, "Any trouble with the law will be dealt with on the basis of presumed innocence until proven guilty."

Northridge officials are using that passage like a shield. "I'm not a policeman, a judge or a district attorney," Burt said.

"I'm a football coach and he's a football player and a student. He deserves the same rights everybody else has."

Sometimes a coach has to play by the book.

But it's best to mix in a little common sense.

Common sense. Doesn't the handbook say anything about common sense?

There is a segment that reads, "Negative action (i.e., trouble with the law, violating dorm rules, etc.) of a football player is a direct reflection on our football program and your football teammates and coaches."

Right now, that reflection looks bad.

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