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More on Liberty NG Asa Chapman, Part Two

Much is still developing on the front of Asa Chapman's reinstatement, with a fair amount of people (including Liberty students and alumni themselves) electrifying the Flamefans forum over the issue.  In an effort to talk about this story, Lynchburg News and Advance reporter Chris Lang has written a detailed blog posting on the issue, which is a fantastic timeline and collection of quotes concerning the decision.

I'll attempt to look at some of the quotes - though I'd strongly suggest anyone to read the whole blog posting - and give some pertinent background, below the flip.  (more)

Liberty’s football coaching staff was made aware of the charges and took action, and part of that action was for Chapman to immediately turn himself into the office of student affairs at Liberty, which is where the “self-reporting” came from in Monday’s press release on the matter. Chapman went to student affairs to inform them of what happened before student affairs was aware of the charges. Ergo, he self-reported.
This is in regards to a bunch of statements over at the Flamefans message board concerning Chapman's "sefl-reporting" of an incident that had already happened, but was no secret.

While it does seem weird that someone can "self-report" an arrest and making bail - when it's obvious that, by being arrested, it's been "already reported" - it does seem like university protocol was followed, so I have a hard time saying anything bad about that aspect of the issue.
The school, the football program and the athletics department met with Chapman and his legal counsel, they learned as much information as possible, and the school chose to give Rocco the option to reinstate Chapman on Monday. As for what this information was, I don’t know. Rocco won’t comment on it, nor will the school, because of two things: 1. It’s an ongoing legal matter, and 2. There are privacy issues involved with college students that don’t allow for public discussion of legal issues. That would be the same if I had asked about a random student and not a popular football player.
Head coach Danny Rocco: “The reality is there was a lot of information that was gathered. The issue is that I’m really not at the freedom to discuss the specifics of the information that allowed me to make that decision. In theory, when you suspend somebody indefinitely, I’m not changing my mind when I reinstate them. That’s why it’s worded ‘indefinitely‘. So I just responded at what I felt was the most appropriate time, based on the information that I had received.”
All this is true: coach Rocco has the ability to reinstate him at any time.  Students do have privacy rights.  And, it's an ongoing legal matter, so coach Rocco certainly can't talk about the specifics.

But it's not so much the fact that it could be done, so much as the question should it be done.  The fact is that this student is pending trial for a felony, and his reinstatement is a reflection on your football program and your University.

Which goes into another aspect of the comments below:

When Rocco said “education and testing” in his previous quote on Chapman, I asked -- because of the nature of the charges against him -- if that testing included drug testing: “I will opt not to answer that question.”
This was a very interesting answer, for Liberty has one of the strictest substance abuse policies in any University in the country:

Possession, use, manufacture and/or distribution of illegal substances is a crime and Liberty University will cooperate with law enforcement authorities who are enforcing current statutes. Students are warned that involvement with drugs or alcohol, on or off campus, can result in disciplinary action by the University, as well as any criminal penalties. The disciplinary action will most likely result in student expulsion.

The University instituted an on-going program of mandatory random drug testing in the Fall semester of 1988. The purpose of this program is to detect the use of illegal drugs and administer disciplinary action against those students and employees whose way of life is incompatible with the University community and whose example and conduct may be a detriment to the lives of other students and employees. To that extent, Liberty University is committed to using every lawful means at its disposal to preserve the purposes upon which it was founded and continues to exist.

Failure to cooperate with the University's drug testing program will result in disciplinary action against a student, including the likelihood of administrative withdrawal from the University.
Unusual for most schools, Liberty takes an extremely hard line against drugs.  And it's not even solely in regards to using them.  Mere involvement with drugs and alcohol can be grounds for expulsion.

Not only that, though, while Mr. Chapman is presumed to be innocent in a court of law, it would seem that Liberty could potentially have one or more of Liberty-administered random drug tests available from him available at their disposal.  Additionally, according to their substance abuse policy, if he refused, he'd be expelled.

It also opens up more questions: Are all students subject to random drug testing?  Are football players and other athletes included in the drug testing?

If Liberty cares deeply about their drug policy - and it does seem like they are very passionate about that issue - why should they make an exception with Mr. Chapman until everything comes out at his scheduled trial?

More importantly, would they have done the exact same thing with a non-football playing student?

Was he concerned about the perception and the message that Chapman’s reinstatement sends to the rest of Liberty’s student body and alumni base: “I think every decision that I make, I’m concerned about the perception. When I chose to take a penalty down at North Carolina State and chose to punt the football, you’re concerned about the perception. I make many decisions, every day. Every decision I make, I weigh the decision based on the information that I have, based on the individual that it’s affecting, and I move forward. Obviously, any time there are suspensions and then reinstatements, there will be public opinion. There’s public opinion on both sides of the fence, I’m sure. I am making this decision with, I believe, the support of the university, knowing that he has been through proper protocol. I would then envision this decision as being specific with any other decision that would be made on campus with any other student on campus as to his availability to participate in an activity. Really, that’s the reality of it, at this stage, in my opinion.”
Did I just read that right?  Did coach Rocco just equate the reinstatement of Asa Chapman with choosing to take a penalty and punting at North Carolina State?


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