Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crime and Punishment...and Eligibility!

  The Iowa Hawkeyes all-time leading football receiver, Darrell Johnson-Koulianos went on a ‘redemption’ tour of media interviews this past weekend in Des Moines. Johnson-Koulianos was kicked off the Hawkeye football team after being arrested in December and charged with 7 misdemeanor drug charges and keeping a drug house. Johnson-Koulianos was suspended from the team and missed the final game of his collegiate career, the Insight.Com bowl game against Missouri. Ultimately, Johnson-Koulianos pled guilty to possession of marijuana and was given a $315 fine, a year’s probation and the offense will be wiped from his record if he completes his probation. With the NFL draft coming up this week, Johnson-Koulianos has made himself available from interviews in the Des Moines newspapers and radio stations, no doubt hoping to convince some team that he just made one poor choice and is worthy of being drafted to play in the NFL. Currently, he is thought of as a marginally low draft pick, partly because of his arrest and subsequent dismissal from the team.

  This guy had never been in any sort of criminal trouble before but he was thrown off the team and even when his initial charge was reduced to a misdemeanor has been ostracized from the football program, not allowed to wear an Iowa helmet in the Senior Bowl, not allowed to use the gym that all the other graduating Iowa football seniors are using, and not allowed to use the facilities to work out for NFL scouts. I don’t know if Johnson-Koulianos will get drafted or not, but given the not-so sterling character of many of the current players, I think the fact that he was able to be the all-time receiver for a Big Ten school while being a drug user should improve his draft stock as long as he can prove he can stay clean.

  This is a big contrast to other Iowa Hawkeye football players who have been arrested for minor crimes like public intoxication, (like here, here, and here). Most of these matters were handled ‘internally’ and the players were allowed to resume their football careers without incident, presumably after some community service and extra stair running.

  Also in stark contrast to Johnson-Koulianos being ostracized from the Iowa football program is the courting by Iowa and other schools of Maryland’s 6’5’’ 220 pound basketball player Anthony Hubbard. Hubbard is a standout player who was the team captain and a first team all Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.Hubbard is also an ex-convict who served nearly 4 years in prison for his part in an armed robbery. He has chosen to sign with the Hawkeyes and will surely be good for many stories of personal redemption as long as his scoring average is inspirational.

  I’m not saying that Hubbard doesn’t deserve a second chance or an opportunity to play basketball. I just find it odd that a top producing player who only had one more game to play was cast aside like an old diaper for what turned out to be a misdemeanor, while a player who has the potential to provide a productive 2 years of basketball service is welcomed with open arms despite a felony conviction that resulted in almost 4 years in prison. I know college sports is all about winning but even so, I’d like to think the university of Iowa basketball program could find a better use for their basketball scholarships than on a junior college player from Maryland. Isn’t there even one player from Iowa that that scholarship couldn’t be used for? I never cease to be amused at college sports fanatics who get all worked up over their team out of state pride when most of the impact players come from other states. Why take so much pride in the fact that the Iowa sport imports from Florida, Texas, and Illinios can beat the Northwestern sport imports from Florida, Texas, and California?

  In other legal news, Tanya McDowell of Bridgeport, CT was charged with first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first degree larceny. Her crime was to use a friend’s address to sign up her son for school in nearby Norwalk.

  McDowell couldn’t use her own address since she is homeless. Since she doesn’t have an address, I’m not sure why she couldn’t say she was homeless in Norwalk to get her son in school there, but I imagine the Norwalk school board buttoned up that loophole long ago. For this crime, McDowell faces up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted. While it is against the law to deny free public education to illegal immigrants, in Norwalk McDowell’s friend was evicted from her public housing for letting her address be used to get her friend's son in a different school! I doubt Tanya will serve any time in prison or get a fine since she was lucky enough to have her plight hit the news wires, but if she or her son had a jump shot they could attend the University of Iowa and even rob some banks for pocket change on the way to the first practice.