Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Hughes: Take pride in UW’s clean off-field record

Wisconsin has three sports teams that are a source of revenue for the school – football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey. Thus, they are in the spotlight and have the most fans.

Every year, the expectations for all three teams are relatively high, despite not being a popular brand on the national scene.

Football fans are always on their toes for their next chance to go to the Rose Bowl. Men’s basketball fans will riot if they don’t make the NCAA tournament, and they are also hard-pressed for a deep run. Men’s hockey fans want the Kohl Center dressed in full regalia of title banners.


And how have these teams faired in just the last year or so?

The football team returned to Pasadena, only to lose by two points. Men’s basketball again accepted a tournament invitation and won two games, but did not reach the Final Four or the Elite Eight (which has happened only once in Bo Ryan’s tenure).

Men’s hockey lost last year’s championship, 5-0, and after an admirable run with such a young squad, failed to make the NCAA tournament this year.

The minds of Wisconsin fans are even-tempered in that the disappointments that came with the above achievements are not something worth throwing a temper tantrum over, unlike what you’ll find within the irrational fan bases of SEC football (just ask national champion LSU head coach Les Miles).

Still, those don’t exactly satisfy expectations.

While it’s true that other programs probably face more pressure to shoulder, you could still say there’s a good amount of it on Wisconsin’s programs to be tip-top year-in and year-out, as well.

And despite the amount of pressure on Wisconsin programs and the boiling amount of competition in the Big Ten and especially the WCHA, you don’t see any shameful NCAA recruiting violations surrounding the school, do you?

Look around at the national college landscape – specifically men’s basketball and football – and it seems like scandals are ubiquitous.

Just Monday it was revealed that, according to, Boise State has been dabbling in some unethical practices of late. Prospective football players, from 2005 to 2009, received $4,934 dollars for housing, transportation and meals. Four other Boise State sports teams were involved in improper practices, as well.

Ohio State’s been in the news lately too. Their head coach, Jim Tressel, a previously believed-to-be professor of coaching, winning and ethics, currently finds himself at the center of the NCAA’s ire for withholding information about five of his players who accepted improper benefits.

And those are just two of the most recent cases. There’s the fiasco at USC, which resulted in a returned Heisman Trophy, a fleeing head coach, a two-year ban from bowl games and no responsibility taken, either from Reggie Bush, Pete Carroll or then-athletic director Mike Garrett (who accused the NCAA of “envy”).

There have been academic violations at North Carolina’s football team, Bruce Pearl’s unethical and misleading violations at Tennessee and John Calipari’s trail of bad breadcrumbs that include academic fraud with Derrick Rose and Eric Bledsoe.

Even newly crowned three-time champion of a head coach Jim Calhoun will begin next season with a suspension after failing to create an atmosphere of compliance with the UConn basketball team.

What kinds of strings are being pulled at Wisconsin? I could only find one case: in April of 2009 when three football coaches visited a recruit on the last day of a period in which recruiting is disallowed.

Wisconsin reported that violation (as did Boise State for theirs) and while there are, of course, many other schools out there that have admirably clean records with the NCAA like Wisconsin’s, it’s something worth being proud of these days in the college game, where competition has seemingly gotten the better of the best in sports.

But Wisconsin is one of the best in sports as well. Wisconsin’s football team hasn’t missed a bowl game since 2001. The men’s basketball squad hasn’t missed the tournament since 1998. Men’s hockey has missed the NCAA tournament just three times in Mike Eaves’ nine-year tenure at Wisconsin (and he already has a championship).

The three teams have collected a multitude of conference championships along the way, as well.

So when you go home this summer and your friends from other schools with Division I sports programs thumb their noses at you for losing the Rose Bowl or losing the Frozen Four 5-0 or never making a deep enough run in March Madness, just remind them that the Badgers have been accomplishing plenty on an annual basis for just about a decade now.

Hardly any dips in performance, and all without the extra baggage of off-field blunders and scandals.

Elliot is a junior majoring in journalism. How proud are you that “Wisconsin sports” and “scandals” are two phrases that stay far apart from each other? Let him know at [email protected].

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