Letters from the Issue of March 14, 2002

University of Miami administrators called for downfield interference

Anonymous Annihilation

Even football stars should know their detractors: Kirk Nielsen's story about University of Miami football player Andre Johnson ("End Run," March 7) had more quotes from ghosts than The X-Files. Next time you want to write a piece that butchers a twenty-year-old kid, Kirk, why don't you get quotes from real people with real names?

Your attempt to lump together all Miami football players as cheaters was disgraceful at best. It was so obvious that the entire story was made possible by a disgruntled member of the UM faculty who decided to take his anger to canestime.com. Hopefully your new friend will no longer be employed at UM.

A story like this may explain why you write for New Times and not a real paper.

Danny Ramirez

Aventura

Do We Detect a Wee Bit of Bitterness?

Angry scribe cut from team, vows revenge: Wow! Kirk Nielsen's article contained a lot of hostility and resentment, which raises questions about his intentions. Was it reported and written in good faith? It seemed like an attack more than anything.

There were many comments that did not seem too relevant to what I think he was trying to address -- the problem of athletes and academics at UM and other universities. How did remarks involving the KKK make their way into the article? It was his story and he can write whatever he wants, but come on, how did that get past the editor?

Hue Hester

Miami

Entitlements 101: Football Players vs. Everyone Else

Catch a pass and UM will let you pass: I'm not surprised by the way the Andre Johnson case was handled. When I was at UM (I graduated in 1994), I certainly felt that football players got special treatment academically. Two incidents may serve to illustrate this point.

After my first year of school I had a 4.0 grade point average, but one of my grants to help me with tuition was unexpectedly dropped prior to my sophomore year and I had to scramble to make up the difference. What did that say about school priorities? If I had been a football player at the top of my game would that have happened? I think not.

Also a friend of mine was accused of cheating on an organic-chemistry exam. The evidence against him was much less clear-cut than in the Johnson case. I sat next to him during that exam and his answers were suspiciously similar to but not identical to the person sitting on his other side (not me). I was the best student in that class and my friend knew it. So if he were going to copy off anyone, it would have been me!

For that reason and others I'm convinced he was innocent and I wrote a letter on his behalf to the honor council. Unfortunately they revoked his university scholarship, he could no longer afford to attend UM, and he dropped out. Again, I doubt this would have happened to a football player.

I received a wonderful education at UM and have many fond memories of my times there, but these two incidents were not among them.

Aaron Bartholomew

North Bay Village

The Athletic Advantage

Some students are created more equal than others: I enjoyed Kirk Nielsen's article on a particular instance of favoritism for a student athlete at the University of Miami. Obviously this behavior is both morally and academically wrong on the part of the student and the school's administration. Unfortunately this favoritism has spread to FIU as well.

Although I have yet to see any example of an FIU athlete receiving reduced penalties for academic dishonesty, I can attest to the fact that at FIU athletes are put in a class of their own. At FIU our athletes have their own computer labs, special tutors, and their own library. When I bemoaned the fact that athletes at FIU are given access to better facilities than the rest of us, a professor complained to me that she has had to deal with FIU-funded tutors for these athletes sending her forms to fill out so the athletes can be tutored enough to pass her class!

Those of us at FIU who are not athletes are not so lucky. When we are failing a class, we hit the books, not the playing field. If we don't study hard enough, we have only our professor to help us. Personally I find it atrocious that a student should receive tutoring and the use of special facilities not based on academic problems but instead on the student's ability to play a sport.

This is made worse by the fact that FIU is funded in part by tax dollars. Every student at FIU deserves equal treatment, but our administration has created a host of second-class citizens by affording only athletes certain luxuries, most of which pertain not to the sports they play but to keeping their grades high enough to remain eligible to play.

Evelio E. Astray-Caneda III

Miami

New UM Degree Program First in Nation

Bold approach praised by NFL: It's disappointing to read how the University of Miami administration handled the Andre Johnson situation. Perhaps it's time for UM to offer a degree in football. That way student athletes can be accommodated without dumbing down and corrupting the rest of the university.

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