As the crowd made its way out of the Events Center the night that the Binghamton University men’s basketball team defeated Holy Family for its first win, one young man made his way toward the sidelines instead.
He was someone who had made visits to the Bearcat dance floor all too often last year.
All that remained of his journey was a banner hung above the students’ section: “America East Champions 2008-09.”
But Malik Alvin was not just fondly reminiscing; he was wishing he could still be a part of it.
“It’s disappointing that I’m not out there playing,” he said. “The guys told me that they are just trying to learn new stuff every day about each other. It’s just like starting all over again for them.”
Alvin was one of five players dismissed from the team in late September for what officials described as a lack of commitment “both on and off the court.” The dismissals came two days after Emanuel “Tiki” Mayben was released from the team, following his arrest on drug charges.
Last October, Alvin was arrested for allegedly stealing condoms from Wal-Mart and assaulting an elderly woman as he fled the store.
For more than a month officials haven’t budged on the reasons behind the dismissals, citing nothing more than commitment problems.
For Alvin, the logic is quite clear.
“Actually, [the administration] wouldn’t be able to tell you anything because there is nothing to tell,” he said. “Basically we were accused of something that they had no evidence of.”
Alvin believes that the dismissals were made in order to protect certain jobs in the athletic department.
When Pipe Dream asked Alvin what he and the players were accused of, he said he didn’t know himself.
“I can’t even tell you,” he said. “I don’t know. I just know that I was thrown off the team. They [said] that they [had] a police report [but] I never read no police report or nothing. I think they were just trying to save their jobs.”
Still, the 21-year-old senior human development major did say that he and the other former players were suspended prior to Mayben’s arrest.
“I think the whole situation is messed up because before Tiki got in trouble, we were still on the team and we just got suspended,” he said. “Then right after he got in trouble we [were] kicked off.”
According to Alvin, he and the others were suspended for “just being accused of getting in trouble.” The administration never gave a reason.
He also said that he thought the suspension could have been reversed, but with Joel Thirer’s resignation from his position as athletic director, and the indefinite suspension of former head coach Kevin Broadus, the situation became more complicated.
When questioned about Malik’s statements, BU spokeswoman Gail Glover declined to comment past a statement citing the audit President Lois DeFleur initially announced after Thirer stepped down. Days later, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said that SUNY would be conducting the review.
“There are a range of issues that Judge [Judith] Kaye and her team are reviewing. The University is working closely with the team to ensure that they have the resources, documents and information they need to conduct this review in a comprehensive, thorough and timely manner. Out of respect for the review process, we will not be providing any additional information at this time,” Glover said in the statement.
Interim Athletic Director Jim Norris said he could not comment specifically on the dismissals, as he was not “intimately involved.”
“I’m not going to confirm or deny what you may or may have not heard,” he said.
In a statement from Broadus earlier this semester, one could assume that Broadus had ordered the dismantling of the additional five players: Derrick “D.J.” Rivera, David Fine, Paul Crosby, Corey Chandler and Alvin.
“There’s only one captain steering this ship, and that’s me,” Broadus said.
But according to Alvin, the decision came from higher up.
“I actually think that it was out of Coach Broadus’ hand, what was going on,” he said. “He was actually trying to see if he could get us back on the team after they found out that we [did not] get into trouble.”
Now the former guard Alvin says he feels disappointed and betrayed by the administration, and that they way he and the other athletes were removed made it seem like they had something to do with Mayben’s situation.
“I think that’s messed up that you would try to save your job over somebody that’s in college,” he said. “You’re basically messing up their life. Basketball and school is our life … For all six guys that were kicked off the team, it seemed as if they were connected to the same thing. Now I get calls from whoever saying that because I was selling drugs, that’s why I got kicked off the team. I’m not that kind of person.”
For Alvin, his basketball career does not stop at Binghamton. He’s looking to transfer after this semester, and is concentrating on getting back into shape and performing well in school right now.
If there is anything he has learned from this ordeal, Alvin says it would be to be more careful when it comes to trusting others.
“My trust issue now with people is way different. When you first come to a school, people tell you whatever they want you to hear. But when a situation comes in which they might have to step out of their boundaries to help you out, I don’t think they would do that.”
— Ashley Tarr contributed to this report.