Thursday, March 23, 2006

The female Terrell Owens of college sports.

Media: Via Poynter. She has all the makings of a MSM journalist, self-centered and clueless.

A Tennessee State tennis player was kicked off the team and had her scholarship revoked last month after she missed three days of practice to attend a collegiate journalism conference on behalf of the university. Junior Melaney Whiting traveled to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Newspaper Conference in North Carolina on Feb. 8-11 instead of attending practices in preparation for the upcoming tennis season. Whiting is on staff at the school’s student paper, The Meter, and was the tennis team’s No. 1 singles player. Her trip to the conference was fully funded by the school and approved by Director of Student Publications Pamela Foster and by Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Dorothy Lockridge. But when Whiting asked Gerald Robinson, TSU’s tennis coach, if she could skip practice, he refused. Whiting attended anyway.
She is on an athletic scholarship and she decides to blow off her coach and her team to be a journalist. The story should end there because you just don't do that, especially if you are getting a free ride. But then it gets interesting.
In a meeting with Whiting, TSU Athletics Director Teresa Phillips backed Robinson’s decision. Phillips said athletes are excused from practices in order to attend class or for class-related functions. “Basically, [Whiting] defied her coach’s direction to be at practice,” Phillips said. “Extra-curricular academic activities are not excused. It is up to the coach to make an exception, but he clearly shared his desire for her not to travel.” Whiting pleaded her case in a column published in the March 20 edition of The Meter. She said she chose to attend the conference instead of practice because the potential benefits of doing so outweighed those of preparing for the upcoming season. Whiting only won one match in her first two years on the team. The Lady Tigers haven’t won a dual meet during Whiting’s two years. On the other hand, The Meter won a second-place award for its post-Hurricane Katrina coverage, which was spurred by Whiting, who maintains a GPA over 3.0 and aspires to attend law school. Foster referred to Whiting as “an excellent student journalist.” “Our team is not good. We basically go out there and get slaughtered,” Whiting said. “It was worth me going because I won an award and my newspaper won an award. I made the university look good.”
The female Terrell Owens of black college tennis ladies and gents. Its all about her. You have a free sports ride, not a free journalism ride. If being a journalist is that damn important, get a scholarship from the journo or some other department. The sports department can give that letter to someone who wants to be there, won't throw her coach/team under the bus and be a parasite while trying to act innocent about what she has done. Don't dismiss the Owens comparison btw.
Last summer, Robinson wrote Whiting a letter informing her that her scholarship had been reduced from full to half. Whiting said Robinson had problems with her involvement with other organizations like the newspaper, her sorority and her participation in last year’s homecoming festivities. “There were some earlier issues [regarding Whiting’s practice attendance],” Phillips said. “Being an athlete means sacrifice, sometimes in situations like this.” Whiting said her family has hired an attorney is considering taking her case to the NCAA. The total value of Whiting’s partial scholarship is $8,600 or about half the yearly cost of enrollment, housing expenses and meal plan for an out-of-state student.
Obvious she was using the team for her own purpose and this was the last straw that ticked off the coach. She has good grades and doing well in school, but as a person she has a lot to learn about commitment.

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