A Plan to Reduce Arrests

Last week, Florida coach Urban Meyer indicated he was fed up with the number of arrest incidents his players have had over the years. The Florida head man said, "enough is enough." He also said they would look at everything they are doing to see what could be done to put an end to a streak of behavior that totals 30 arrests including 10 felonies on his watch.

If your goal is to reduce aberrant behavior on the part of people under your authority the key is deterrence. If you are concerned too many of your children/employees/players are getting into trouble than the first thing you have to acknowledge is that the punishments you are handing out are not stuff enough. The question then becomes this: how do you increase punishments in a way that deters inappropriate activity without being draconian? You don't want to throw a player off the team for an open container violation – and yes, that counts as an arrest. You also don't want to suspend a player half a game for breaking and entering.

Here's one man's view of steps Meyer could and should take to make his players more accountable and put an end to the constant "tote board" reporting on his players' off-field accomplishments.

Public Accountability ---- I am absolutely convinced that players take advantage of Meyer's desire to protect them from public recriminations. That needs to stop. It's long past time for UF to acknowledge that a player is actually suspended as opposes to "not being ready to play". Also, any player suspended for a second time receives double the penalty regardless of the circumstances.

Make Suspensions Punitive ---- Obviously missing a game is not enough of a deterrent so try something additional. A player that is suspended should not be allowed on the sidelines, wearing a Gator jersey, celebrating big plays and exchanging high-fives with his teammates. That's okay for injured players and those that are redshirting, but not for punishment. A suspended player should work for the equipment crew setting up the locker room and cleaning up after the game. It might be a good idea to make him work the laundry room, too.

Hard and Fast Rules ---- There should be some punishment right off the top no matter what. If you get arrested you are suspended from competition until the matter is resolved. Whether that resolution takes two days or two months is often up to the accused anyway. If the resolution of the case includes community service hours that obligation must be fulfilled before competition eligibility can be restored.

Public Apology Required ---- Before any player is reinstated he must appear at the Monday media day activities in order to apologies for his actions to the victim (if there is one), the team, coaches, University and Gator Nation as a whole. The individual must also answer questions about his misbehavior.

Felony Charge = Six Game Minimum ---- If the State Attorney's office proceeds with felony charges you will miss at least six games and will not be allowed to take part in any team activities until the case is resolved. This should convince any/all players to slam on the breaks during any confrontation.

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There's no set of measures that can guarantee a successful result in terms of moderating unacceptable behavior. The bottom line will always come down to the intelligence, judgment and self discipline of the players that are brought into the program. But Meyer has acknowledged that what the Gators have been doing has not been as effective as he would like. The measures I am suggesting won't be pleasant, but discipline is supposed to hurt. It's supposed to be painful and it's supposed to deter inappropriate behavior.

So give it a shot. You have nothing to lose but your arrest record.


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