When a prospective student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent to seal their intention to play for a certain college football program they willingly give up a certain amount of personal control, and perhaps even privacy.
Their personal business soon becomes the public’s in our world of 24 hour news cycles, social media, and obsessive fan culture– right or wrong.
A recent decision by Gene Chizik and the coaching staff– and above them, the athletic administration– in control of the Auburn Tigers has crossed the line between personal control and an invasion of privacy.
As is true of programs across the country, the Tigers have a stated 11 pm curfew. Under this curfew, players must be in their dorm rooms or other living spaces able to be checked-upon by members of the coaching staff if necessary.
Apparently Chizik, whose seat is on fire after a 1-7 start to the 2012 season, decided that team controls weren’t enough, and needed to be taken to a whole new level.
Chizik has secured the services of an Auburn-based security firm called Events Operations Group to ensure his players– both those on, and off-campus– are adhering to the 11 pm curfew following a series of off-field mishaps over the course of the past few months.
There’s a fine line between making sure your players adhere to stated team rules and violating their right to personal privacy– regardless of the language of a barely binding contract like the LOI.
Auburn has crossed this line.
While I can understand monitoring closely the conduct of players who still live on campus and making sure curfews are lived up to since most of them are underclassmen, when this carries over to upperclassmen– who both by age and experience are adults– we’re no longer talking about monitoring, we’re talking about invading privacy.
Student-athletes live under a spectre of rigid structure, where every minute of every day is controlled and scheduled. Time away from this structured life is precious, more precious than the average non student-athlete could possibly imagine. I’ve been there myself and know this from first-hand experience.
I’m having difficulty understanding why a private security firm needs to loom around off-campus apartment complexes to ensure that a 21 year-old is home at 11 pm on a Tuesday evening.
Can someone answer this for me?
When do players get to enjoy being in college? Ever?
I’m asking you Gene Chizik.
If we flipped the script, Gene, would you want a private security firm’s employee standing outside of your gated community on a Tuesday night to make sure you were lights out at 11 pm.
Nope, didn’t think so.
Let’s get realistic here folks– these players deserve some personal privacy in a contractual agreement that allows virtually none.
It’s the human thing to do.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page. Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.