Tate's arrest the latest Illinois athletics embarassment

Illinois’ Jaylon Tate shoots a three during the game against Minnesota at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 9. The Illini won 85-52.

By Kevin McCarthy

Illinois men’s basketball made headlines for all of the wrong reasons Saturday morning.

Junior guard Jaylon Tate was arrested early Saturday morning on domestic battery charges.

Tate becomes the third member of the team to be arrested and suspended this year. Forward Darius Paul was arrested in August for public intoxication, vandalism and resisting arrest while the team was overseas in France. Forward Leron Black was arrested for allegedly pulling a knife on a bouncer at a Champaign club last month.

This is embarrassing, John Groce. You have lost control of your team.

The University of Illinois athletic department has become a laughing stock over the last year. Between allegations of player abuse and several media gaffes — making positive headlines has been a rarity.

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It seemed as if the athletic department turned a page after hiring Josh Whitman last month to be the University’s new athletic director. That celebration lasted less than 24 hours — Black was arrested early the following morning.

It seemed bad — but, forgive and forget. The news seemed to blow over fairly quickly.

Bringing in Lovie Smith as head football coach felt like the end of all of the crap. Illinois was finally in the positive spotlight.

That didn’t last long.

I won’t speculate on what happened in Tate’s case — it’s an ongoing situation that I won’t pretend to know the intimate details of. That’s not what I’m getting at. My problem stems from a larger trend. I take issue with the fact that John Groce has allowed this to happen.

Groce didn’t pull a knife, he didn’t vandalize those cars. I know that. But, a true leader wouldn’t allow this to happen one time — let alone three.

Players need to understand what it means to play for the University of Illinois. This is a proud institution — one that has always held itself to the highest standards. What does it mean to be an Illini anymore? What does it mean to wear the orange and blue?

Right now, I’m not sure.

I don’t think I’m being over-dramatic in the slightest. This is serious.

Am I suggesting that Whitman should repeal the “vote of confidence” he gave to Groce earlier this week?

I really don’t know how to feel about that, yet. The question does need to be explored, however.

As a student, I’m disappointed in John Groce and his team. I can’t imagine how many of our student-athletes feel — most of whom are honorable men and women who make our University proud.

I do imagine they’ll band together and get through this with relative ease. They always do. I commend them for that.

They’ve been through hell and back over the last year and they just keep pushing. It’s all they know how to do.

I would urge them to do something a little different this time, though. Make it known that you think this is wrong. Don’t let a couple of bad apples ruin the entire athletic program’s image.

Take a stand.

Go into Mr. Whitman’s office and tell him that he needs to put the hammer down. Enough is enough. This great University shouldn’t continue to make headlines for the wrong reasons. 

Get control of your team, John Groce — or get out.

Kevin is a sophomore in Media.

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