Commentary, Sports

TURNER: Louisiana State should set an example with troubled Jeremy Hill

Summer scandals have shown that new leadership is needed in matters regarding the NCAA.

Johnny Manziel signing autographs for profit? Inexcusable. If the NCAA finds that the Texas A&M sophomore slinger is in violation of its improper benefits policy, the damage to the Aggie football program would be irreparable.

The investigation is sending a powerful message to the fans of the college sports world, and it’s the wrong one.

While every action that Manziel makes is examined under a microscope, more pressing issues are being handled by the wrong people.

Louisiana State running back Jeremy Hill has essentially been pardoned from wrongdoing, and the subject has been a hotbed for debate in recent weeks. With the college football season rapidly approaching, the Tigers, the nation’s No. 12 team (in the USA Today poll) will enter the season at full strength due to a failure to hand out discipline by the university and the NCAA.

Hill had a track record of poor behavior prior to joining the Tigers. He pled guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile (a misdemeanor charge related to sexual activity with a minor) with a 14-year-old freshman girl as an 18-year-old senior in high school, according to CBS Sports.

At the time, LSU coach Les Miles chose to give his prized recruit a slap on the wrist, as he allowed him to keep his scholarship while putting him on probation.
In the offseason, Hill visited a nightclub with some friends and sucker-punched a man from behind in the parking lot, according to CBS Sports. He allegedly left the scene laughing and never apologized to the unsuspecting victim.

Again, Hill got off easy. According to USA Today, a judge tightened the restrictions on his probation. Hill now has to stay out of bars, and he has a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. There is one exception, though: he can still play in all of the night football games.

Upon breaking the terms of his probation, Hill still needed to be reinstated to join the team. Miles could have been the one to make an impression on his leading rusher. He deferred.

Miles left the fate of Hill in the hands of his peers, allowing his teammates to vote on his return to the team. They unanimously agreed to bring him back. After all, he gives them the best chance to win.

Perhaps Miles is not the man to set Hill straight. In the past, he has awarded one second chance too many. You don’t have to look too far back to remember the circus of Tyrann Mathieu’s troubles with drug use.

Maybe the right man for the job is new LSU President F. King Alexander, who just left Long Beach State. He could stamp out the wave of misbehavior within the Tigers football program.

Alexander oversaw the revocation of scholarships for four members of the LBSU men’s basketball team prior to his departure this summer. The discipline was speculated to have been handed out because of character issues.

The Hill saga represents an opportunity for Alexander to make his mark in the opening days of his presidency at LSU. At times, football seems greater than life itself, especially in the Southeastern Conference. If Alexander can reach out to Miles and establish a reformation of the recruiting process, it would go a long way toward building respect for the university.

In the world of college sports, the need for talent is great. The need for good citizens and good role models is even greater.

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