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February. 02, 2006 - Quoting the Summit’s participants

Kareem McKenzie, Pennsylvania State U. graduate and current player, New York Giants

(On the message he tries to give to high school players, particularly regarding steroid use) “It takes hard work. There are shortcuts. Don’t be stupid and don’t put yourself in a situation where you can harm yourself.”

“None of that stuff matters now—how big your weight room is, how many practice fields you have. It’s how hard you work in the environment you have.”

“No one tells these students that the average NFL career lasts three to four years. No one says that every Tuesday, on your day off, they bring anybody and everybody in to take your position.”

“When you look at the violence factor, football is a very violent sport. It’s man against man. The more violent you are, the more coveted you are as a player. Sometimes players can’t separate from that when they get off the field.”

Joanne Belknap, professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Colorado at Boulder

(On issues involving athletes and assault, especially sexual assault and harassment) “Climate matters, and the good news is that we can change the climate.”

“Alcohol and drugs do not cause sexual abuse. People’s basic values don’t change when they are high.”

“To me, one of the biggest problems is how isolated and insulated athletics departments are. Faculty, staff, and non-athlete students feel like they are excluded from that, and it’s difficult to have what should be a community to discuss what the issues are.”

Don McPherson, director of the Sports Leadership Institute, Adelphi University

“If a journalism student writes a scathing racist commentary in the school newspaper, it’s not an indictment of journalism department. If a chemistry student builds a bomb or an exploding toilet, there’s not an indictment of the chemistry department. But if a student-athlete does something wrong, the athletics department, the coaches are blamed.”

Regarding the messages students get about violence, respecting women, and using alcohol and drugs: “We don’t talk to them honestly, yet we expect them to make good decisions with no information, and we expect them to ignore the culture from which they come, especially the culture that is wrapped around the industry of sports.”

Jemalle Cornelius, current student at the University of Florida and member of the football team

(Regarding the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program) “The program was effective because it was clear-cut. I don’t think student-athletes need to be hit with statistics. It’s real-life situations, and that’s exactly what the program did. They told us what battery is, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and said if you do this, you will get arrested.”

“Just looking at it, with Coach Urban Meyer and his philosophy, he talks a lot about core values. One of his core values is treating women with respect. Universities need to pay attention to coaches a lot more. When I was getting recruiting, I didn’t see it, but the coach becomes your father away from home. Coaches need to have core values and incorporate them within their programs. Without that, problems will continue and athletes will fail and make wrong choices.”

“I don’t think a lot of programs are focused on choices and values. They’re focused on scoring touchdowns.”

“I don’t think student-athletes want to go to a party, get in a fight, and get on the cover of Sports Illustrated for doing something stupid.”

Dan Wetzel, columnist, Yahoo.com and author of Glory Road

“Right now, so many kids are getting hurt in this. Kids are getting steered in the wrong direction, and they have one shot. If that goes wrong, they’re done. They can’t get back to the NBA or to a college scholarship. There has to be more accountability.”

“It’s awful tough [to maintain integrity] in basketball, because LeBron James is worth a billion dollars. It’s hard to keep people from wanting to be his agent because the money’s so big.”

“Nobody with good parents goes to six different high schools.”

Myron Rolle, graduate of the Hun School (Princeton, N.J.) and prospective football player at Florida State U.

“Committing early was so important to me. I had 83 offers, even after I had a list of my top 6 schools [published]. Committing in September allowed me to focus on my senior year and football and just be positive about the experience.”

(On coaches disparaging other colleges in the recruiting process) “Negative recruiting reflects poorly on person doing the negative recruiting.”

“I wasn’t trained formally on any of the rules. It wasn’t done at my high school or any of the camps I went to. Some of the drastic [recruiting inducements], like money or having females in your room, that’s just common sense.”

“Being a football player, websites like Rivals.com and Scout.com, the amount of access they have to student-athletes is amazing. They can call you on your cell phone seven times a night and you’re like, ‘didn’t I give you an interview two minutes ago?’ That can be overwhelming.”

Scottie Reynolds, senior at Herndon (Va.) High School and prospective basketball player at the U. of Oklahoma

(Answering a question about whether athletes are aware of recruiting rules) “One school sent me a packet and some books. I read like two pages and I got tired. It’s so much, so much about what you’ve got to do, what all the dates are, I’ve got other stuff to study than a rulebook. I know other players, and their backgrounds are much tougher than mine, and they really don’t care. They’ll look at that packet and just push it away. They’ve got other priorities to focus on.”

(On coaches disparaging other colleges in the recruiting process) “Recruiting is a game, and any way you can put your foot in front of the other school, that’s what you’re going to do. You do whatever it takes to get your school on top.”

Peter Roby, director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society

(Referring to Myron Rolle’s mention of a communication from Gov. Jeb Bush) “If the governor of the state of Florida is text-messaging or calling a recruit, what is he saying? He’s saying I’m going to take time out of managing the state to call you.”

(Referring to coaches) “If you’ve got the championship ring or the thousand-dollar suit, you go into most kids’ homes, they’ll be influenced by that.”

Tye Gunn, recent graduate and former football player, Texas Christian University

(Regarding the fact that scholarships are given to athletes on only a one-year basis) “I think it’s really unfair for us to sign a scholarship and be expected to stay four or five years, and they can turn around and take that from you. Coaches can leave whenever they want. If we were given that opportunity, that would give us a little more pull.”

Ian Gray, graduate student and former track athlete, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

(Answering a question about a coach who kicked an athlete off a team for participating in a study-abroad trip) “The student-athlete is there to get an education. We’re student-athletes. I think that the coach was lacking information about why the student-athlete was there.”

Ruth Riley, graduate of the University of Notre Dame and basketball player for the Detroit Shock:

“Commercialization in women’s basketball has been good for the growth of the sport.”

Mike Aguirre, graduate and former football player, Arizona State University:

“Once you put something on Facebook, I’m not sure how much of it is your private business. Every action has a consequence, and it’s up to us to own the decisions we make.”