Line between DUI and pot remains blurred

MIKE LEACH has made it clear there are three cardinal sins on his team: striking a woman, stealing from a teammate, and using drugs. The recent arrest of rookie lineman Denzell Dotson for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol sparked a debate among WSU partisans: Shouldn't driving under the influence, which threatens lives on public streets, be at least as grievous as smoking pot?

The debate raged on the for days after Dotson's arrest, fueled by the fact his DUI didn't get him booted from the team (or even cost him any practice time), while Sekope Kaufusi's alleged misdemeanor marijuana use in the privacy of his own home did.

That's not to suggest Dotson hasn't been punished. According to reliable sources within the athletic department, he's been condemned to exhaustive physical workouts. Details haven't been shared, but one can presume that something along the lines of running around campus holding a cinder block high over head, as Leach writes about in his book Swing Your Sword, can't be much fun.

Yet it's a far cry from being dismissed from the program, as Kaufusi was earlier this year after a neighbor called police to report the smell of marijuana coming from his apartment. Those charges against him, by the way, recently were dropped.

When asked to compare and contrast the two situations shortly after Denzell's arrest came to light, Leach said internal matters of the team will remain internal.

From an intellectually curious standpoint, however, it's tough to just leave it at that. As a coach, Leach's desire to not want to talk publicly about the transgressions of particular players is more than understandable.

But the proximity of the Denzell and Kaufusi cases to each other, the dramatically different punishments for the two players, and the fact driving under the influence is one of the greatest dangers one person can expose others to really begs the question: How come driving under the influence isn't a cardinal sin, too?

I asked that question of Coach Leach yesterday. I didn't bring up the names of Dotson and Kaufusi, because this isn't really about personnel anymore. It's about logically trying to understand how threatening the lives of innocent people by getting behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated is viewed, seemingly, as less serious than smoking marijuana behind the closed door of your home.

Coach Leach wasn't especially pleased to get the question, but he's a pro and dutifully answered.

"We look at each situation separately and consider the facts of the situation," he said. "The other thing is I'm not going to share internal stuff but when there's other things like fights or minor under the influence, then we'll evaluate on a case-to-case basis. I'm sure you'll agree because the facts on this are pretty indisputable but my line's a little more solid than it is around the country with regard to dismissals and the three (cardinal sins) there. You might like it, you might dislike it, but that's what it is."

It's mostly a non-answer kind of answer, but it's probably as close to an explanation as we'll get.

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