Morgantown, West Virginia – College students consume alcohol. Athletes attend parties and they participate in normal college activities, like drinking and generally raising hell.
As a member of the alternative West Virginia sports media, I view all Instagram Live videos by Mountaineer student-athletes. It’s an inside glimpse at their lives that most of the world won’t see anywhere else.
So when I saw West Virginia players drinking liquor in their newly-remodeled locker room, it felt wrong. Several of the players that were drinking were over the legal drinking of age of 21 years old, but to do it in the locker room seemed very out of place. And to do it Live for the whole world to see, seemed reckless.
Among the eleven players suspended for the season opener against Eastern Kentucky, the most surprising was TJ Simmons. Simmons, a wide receiver for the Mountaineers, is a redshirt senior, a father of a young child, a family man, a team leader.
Simmons took to social media prior to the Eastern Kentucky game to say the following: “I don’t wanna hear it!”
I don’t wanna hear it! #Gameday
— Tj Simmons (@a_scouts_dream) September 12, 2020
Well, TJ, you’re about to hear it from me. You and your teammates worked your asses off for months and you made the conscious decision to make a blatantly terrible choice. You not only drank alcohol in a locker room, you filmed it and made it available for everyone to see.
“The NCAA’s 48-hour rule says athletes are prohibited from consuming alcohol 48 hours before a game and 24 hours before a practice. While most teams have specific drinking policies for their athletes, almost everybody realizes that alcohol doesn’t provide any benefits to athletic performance.”
The video of the Mountaineer players drinking was taken on September 1st presumably directly following a practice. Perhaps the Mountaineers had a full 24 hour break until their next practice. Perhaps Neal Brown wants his players to enjoy themselves and to be college students. Only those within the program know exactly what his stance is on the consumption of alcohol by his players, but Brown appears to be a very pro-player coach, who allows his players to truly live the college lifestyle, as long it doesn’t affect their performance on the field.
However, reportedly the NCAA saw the video, contacted Gordon Gee, Shane Lyons and Neal Brown, and the university had no choice but to suspend them for one game. Following the game, Brown addressed the situation and said, “I love those guys and their suspension is now over effective immediately following the game.”
Brown has clearly chalked this up to “kids being kids” and not a serious violation. Luckily, the Mountaineers didn’t need the eleven suspended players (three of which were starters), but hopefully they use this as a learning experience and it won’t happen again when those players will be needed.