You'd think the Florida Department of Education has more important things to worry about like the FCAT debacle. Instead, state education officials are working hard, wasting taxpayer money, to make sure Luther Campbell -- former 2 Live Crew front man and current New Times columnist -- doesn't get to coach high school football because of the raunchy booty music he produced decades ago.
Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson needs to read the recently published Sports Illustrated's article by Andy Staples, who does a damn good job of showing why Campbell's music career is irrelevant to the tireless work he puts in helping inner city teenage boys get a college education. Staples interviewed players and coaches who have seen firsthand how the man known as Uncle Luke gives 110 percent to his volunteer duties. Here's an excerpt:
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Rakeem Cato, the quarterback for those Miami Central teams, was 10 when he met Campbell through Freeman. When Cato was 12, his mother died. Raised by his sister and grandfather, Cato didn't always know where he would sleep or where he would get his next meal. In high school, he and Freeman spent every other weekend at Campbell's house. While playing at Central, Cato and Campbell communicated every day. Most days, Campbell preached the same message. "There is only one way to get out of that situation," Cato said. "That's to stay in school and get your education."
Cato, now the starting quarterback at Marshall, credits Campbell for "keeping my head on straight." The two still talk routinely, and Campbell breathes easier knowing Cato lives in a safe environment. "I know Cato has a place to stay," Campbell said. "I know he's going to get fed every day. I know he's going to get an education."Campbell has built a long speed-dial list of college coaches.
In May, Campbell pitched players to Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and his brother, Mike, who runs the defense at Oklahoma. Before Northwestern's spring game against Vero Beach, Campbell chatted with a few of the college coaches who had come to evaluate players. Campbell spent time with Miami assistant Michael Barrow, but he also made the rounds of coaches from SEC, Big Ten, Big East and MAC schools.
In Campbell's administrative hearing, the judge asked if Campbell gave star recruits preferential treatment. Hearing the question, Miami Northwestern head coach Steven Field had to laugh. Field took over at Northwestern in January. Before that, he coached running backs at Hampton, a Football Championship Subdivision school in Virginia. Field had known Campbell since 2005, when Field was an assistant at Glades Central High in Belle Glade, Fla., and Campbell took advantage of that friendship to barrage Field with texts and calls about players he coached who might fit at Hampton. "He would continuously call me about young men that just passed [the SAT] or might have been passed over by the Florida States or the University of Miamis," Field told the judge.
While a state administrative judge has recommended Campbell be allowed to have his coaching certificate, the education department has appealed the decision, claiming Campbell lacks "good moral character." Robinson should call off the dogs and let Luke continue his volunteer work as defensive coordinator for the Miami Northwestern Senior High football team. It's the right thing to do.
Readers can contact Robinson at 850-245-0505 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know that Luther Campbell deserves to coach.