Editorial: Players desert fans for phone calls

Getting suited up for a game is usually just an expression, but for seven of the Villanova men’s basketball players that was not the case Sunday afternoon. The usual jerseys and shorts were replaced by shirts and ties and will be for some time as the Wildcats spread out multiple game suspensions to 12 of its players for making unauthorized phone calls with a University access number.This is disgraceful. The team has been given the overwhelming support of the student body since November: attendance figures and interest have been high and negative icons like the turnover meter have become obsolete. The University is not stingy toward the players either: Villanova gives these athletes an education, housing, food, tutoring, laundry service, a weight room and travel. In return, the team has made the University — an institution that stresses truth in its motto as well as its teachings — the butt end of a great many collect-call jokes.As is usually the case, it’s easy to assign blame elsewhere. One of the sportscasters calling the Pittsburgh game said that kids today don’t know right from wrong, but that’s obviously not the case, as most college students are aware that stealing is wrong. Where were the senior leaders when this problem started? Had the team’s veteran players condemned this outright, the rest probably would have followed suit. It’s part of the responsibility each of them spoke about in the beginning of the season — providing an example for the freshmen players. When the seniors failed to take a stance on this issue, they failed not only their teammates but also their school. It’s hard to say they got what they deserved, since this is their final season, but they knew the risks of using the number — Kerry Kittles set the standard less than 10 years ago when he rang up $3,000 worth of calls and was benched for three games. No one should shed any tears while watching these players in shirts and ties from the sidelines.What is most sad is that students have been offered no apology for this inexcusable behavior. The usage of the access number quickly became an NCAA issue, but at heart it’s a Villanova issue. Why should the so-called ‘Nova Nation come out to support a team that is stealing its money to make phone calls? There were a lot of people the team was forced to apologize to, including University administrators, but so far the student body that has faithfully attended each home game has not been offered any apology. It’s about time these men step off the pedestal we’ve put them on and show some real humility to the fans that have stuck by them all year.