All season, teams work toward winning a title, whether it be their conference championship, a national championship or something in between.
When the ability to attain that goal is taken away, what you get is the next ludicrous step in the detoxification of the Binghamton University men’s basketball program.
Earlier this week, the University announced that BU would not be participating in this year’s America East tournament. The reasoning for the “voluntary” decision was cited as “part of our commitment to move forward as we develop a comprehensive plan to address the recommendations of the recent review.”
It’s unfathomable, really.
What none of us can seem to grasp is why a team full of players that weren’t implicated in any wrongdoing is being punished. And it’s an absolutely fair gripe.
This wasn’t the same team full of players who asked coaches for money, or bought a television using someone else’s debit card. Actions to rid the team of those problems were taken long before the review was being conducted. By getting rid of star players, the reigning Coach of the Year and a misguided athletic director, the University was making a statement long before any of us even knew what was going on behind the scenes.
The season got off to a slow, uninspiring start. The then-mediocre team wasn’t doing any favors to its dejected fan base. However, when conference play started, our squad proved it could compete, and fans grew excited at the fact that their basketball team could play and win — even without its flawed stars.
This scrappy team had been providing hope. A brighter day was dawning, and with an 8-7 conference record and (what would have been) a No. 5 seed in the conference tournament, our chances at a title were certainly not zero.
At this stage, the removal of our team from the tournament seemed counterproductive.
Of course, as angst-filled college students, we’re always looking for someone to blame. Do we blame President DeFleur, the “man behind the curtain” who just wants to bury all of this under the proverbial rug? Or perhaps the scapegoats are the other America East schools, which may have forcibly convinced BU to drop out of the conference tournament.
Whether it was one of those, a combination of the two or outside forces is irrelevant. Whoever it was that had the final say — my guess is DeFleur — will have to carry the burden of regret on his or her shoulders for making the decision that crippled BU spirits even further than we thought possible.
Dealing with the review can wait. I’m a firm believer in the power of spirit and pride, and how they can shape a community. The pride of the BU community was never stronger than when our team earned an NCAA berth by winning the America East tournament last year. So why, with a team that hasn’t been implicated in any wrongdoing, have we withdrawn?
The University needs a revitalization of spirit, and this move is going to achieve the exact opposite. All season, University students and community members alike have been pondering how inspiring it would be if this scrappy bunch made a run in the America East tournament, and unexpectedly dashed to the top.
This heart-filled team could have provided the jolt of spirit this campus so obviously needs. Too bad we’ll never know what would have happened had they been allowed to try.