OVERTIME: Butler’s clean slate draws athletes

Photo from MCTCollegiate sports in the 21st century often are marred by mistakes and scandals.

Over the past few years, Butler University has demonstrated that a program can gain just as much attention and success while abiding by the rules.

Rotnei Clarke, one of the premiere players in the prestigious Southeastern Conference will be suiting up in Bulldog blue and white while attempting to keep par with Butler standards.

Clarke, who averaged more than 15 points per game last season for Arkansas, announced earlier this month he would transfer to Butler where he will use his final year of eligibility in the 2012-2013 season.

Considered one of the nation’s best shooters, Clarke shot 44 percent from beyond the arc last year en route to gaining second-team All-SEC honors.

Clarke had narrowed his choices to the national runner-up Bulldogs and his home-state Oklahoma Sooners.

So, what set Butler apart?

I’m sure back-to-back national title game appearances didn’t hurt, nor did three conference tournament championships in the past four years.

But, coincidentally, just three days before Clarke’s official announcement, the Oklahoma men’s basketball program admitted to two major NCAA violations, marking its second severe infractions case in the past five years. As a repeat violator, the program is in danger of losing scholarships or being dropped altogether for one or two seasons.

The story is a microcosm of disparaging behavior that is becoming close to commonplace in college athletics.

Just last week, the national sports scene was rocked by Yahoo! Sports’ unveiling of an 11-month investigation of multiple University of Miami teams, including football and basketball.

A Miami booster said he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to Miami athletes from 2002 to 2010.

The alleged involvement of coaches and at least 72 student-athletes puts the Miami football program at risk of being the first Division I team to receive the “death penalty” since Southern Methodist University in 1987.

The death penalty, the harshest reprimand an NCAA member can receive, is a ban that would keep the Hurricanes from stepping on to the gridiron for at least one season.

But Miami isn’t the only powerhouse program to find itself in hot water recently.

Within the past calendar year, violations have cost top-tier college coaches their jobs, such as Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl.

One hundred and sixty four institutions have been penalized over the past decade, according to the NCAA database for major violations. Since 1953, Butler has had an impeccable bill, amassing zero violations.

Clarke’s choice to attend Butler rather than Oklahoma brings to light encouraging truths.

During a time when colleges and athletic programs are becoming muddled in controversy and asterisks are being accepted as commonplace in record books, Butler has done things the right way—”The Butler Way.”

 

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