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With path cleared, Floyd takes on a new journey

Apr 8, 2011, 10:55 PM EDT

Michael FloydA

Let’s be clear. Michael Floyd is a long way from appearing in the home opener against South Florida in September. But today, as I reported via Twitter, he cleared a remarkable hurdle.

After being arrested on March 20th for drunk driving, Floyd put a career set to go down in the Irish record books in jeopardy by driving home drunk. (A drive about a half-mile door-to-door, or less than a four-dollar cab ride.) He was arrested and booked by Notre Dame Security Police and still faces the legal consequences of the misdemeanor charge, as well as the not insignificant costs associated with the arrest.

But beyond the legal and financial ramifications still to be faced, many had assumed that Floyd’s career at Notre Dame was over, thanks to the unforgiving nature of DuLac, the student disciplinary code that has been handled stone-fisted for much of the last twenty years by ResLife, the disciplinary arm on campus.

As an isolated incident, the DUI certainly was a worry, but when added to the minor-consumption run-ins (not driving related incidents as others are reporting) Floyd had previously back in Minnesota — one of which was widely reported in the days before Brian Kelly arrived on campus — it seemed too much to overcome.

All the goodwill Floyd had earned making the difficult decision to return to school for his senior season had instantly been lost. The kudos he received for returning to Notre Dame for his degree and to prove the self-belief he had in his abilities was forgotten. No. 3 wasn’t just the revered number on Floyd’s Irish jersey, but the alcohol related run-ins he’s had since leaving high school in St. Paul. With the drunk driving arrest three weeks ago, Floyd instantly lost all the wonderful things he’s been called over his three year career in South Bend and became just another one of “them.”

(Just wait until you read the headlines…)

Again, Floyd’s path back to the football field hasn’t been cleared. He’ll still need to deal with the discipline of head coach Brian Kelly, the athletic department, and even more seriously, St. Joseph County prosecutors. And while the decision will undoubtedly have skeptics crowing about the university’s decaying code of ethics or the double-standard for star athletes, the decision, spearheaded by Father Tom Doyle, the Vice President of Student Affairs, shows a continuing level of understanding when it comes to disciplining both athletes and students at Notre Dame, long one of the biggest issues on campus.

The fact that Michael isn’t getting suspended for a semester is a credit to the person he is outside of the legal blips he’s had, all of which are a result of alcohol. As Brian Kelly mentioned and I can confirm, Floyd has taken proactive measures, committed to finishing his degree at Notre Dame regardless of the punishment, and making the right choices in his social life, something he didn’t do the weekend before spring practice was set to start.

For those calling for Floyd’s dismissal or an academic punishment that’d have likely made it impossible for Michael to either play or graduate before the next NFL Draft, consider the standard punishment in college football that’s befitting of the crime: Around one game.

Floyd’s sat out two-thirds of spring practice and was stripped of his captaincy, punishments already considered severe enough in most major college football programs. But the introspection that’s been forced upon the 21-year-old’s life, not to mention the unannounced community service and education he’ll continue to receive, make the headlines of a star players reprieve a lot less than the whole story.

When asked last week what his senior captain and football team can learn from the incident, Brian Kelly was philosophical but supportive of his team’s most valuable player.

“As a football coach and somebody who’s in athletics, I think we all look at it the same way,” Kelly said. “When alcohol’s involved, bad decisions certainly follow. So every day we talk about making good decisions and educate our players about how to do that.

“Look, I’m a teacher and an educator. From my perspective, I’m always thinking about educational opportunities, so I always think in those terms. My first reaction is always about how can we learn. But that’s me. I’m not in that office.”

That office, the one that allowed Michael Floyd to continue as a student at Notre Dame, even though previous administrations likely wouldn’t have, gave the Irish’s best offensive player the opportunity to prove that his alcohol related mistakes don’t define him.

He’ll have the months leading up to the South Florida game, not to mention the rest of his life, to prove it.

 

 

  1. irishdomer1 - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    I must say that I am fairly disappointed in our University’s disciplinary system. Believe me, I am just as glad as any other fan to know Michael will be suiting up this fall. Regardless, he made a very serious mistake and deserves a stern punishment. I think any talk of a full-season suspension is egregious and unjustified, but he should certainly be suspended for at least a couple games. A suspension from spring ball hardly seems like a punishment fitting the offense (regardless of the fact that other schools may find that acceptable). I understand that, ultimately, what matters is that Michael learns from this mistake and comes out a changed and better person, but I hope Kelly holds him out for the first couple weeks.

    • oldhighs - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:04 AM

      Agreed.

      But of course, to most people here, the most important thing is that he’s playing football. And they’ll find any way they can to rationalize that.

    • mannyboy8386 - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      Perhaps ultimately what matters is what will go through the minds of other Notre Dame students who might choose to drink.

      Res. Life is setting a precedent here affecting future players and students.

      • borromini - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:48 AM

        Well if you’re referring to whether this will represent an unequal treatment between star student-athletes and the student body, it remains to be seen if that’s true.

        However, if you’re referring to a laxing of the rules compared to RL rulings of past, then one might argue that the new leadership at RL has determined that the previous RL leaders were too draconian in their punishment for the various offenses regarding first time DUIs and probably the same for other similar offenses.

      • mannyboy8386 - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:02 PM

        The latter borro. It is about time the administration relaxed their rule enforcement to focus on forgiveness with accountability rather than severe consequences. Yet, this seems to have gone too far. Perhaps a game or two would be more of a softening statement while retaining some consequence to help with prevention.

      • borromini - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        But as I understand it…RL doesn’t deal with athletics, just the academics. So they simply chose not to punish MF academically via either suspension for a semester or expulsion. However, that doesn’t mean that BK won’t suspend Floyd and I fully expect that MF will be suspended for at least one game.

  2. kappy32 - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    I agree that he made a bad decision, but I have a hard time supporting the punishment of another for a criminal act before that person is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not our job, nor is it Coach Kelly’s job to determine whether Floyd is guilty of actually drinking & driving. It is the job of the St. Joseph’s County DA to prove that & if they do, then the team should take action. If that means he either pleads of is found guilty late in the year, then maybe he misses the last few games & a possible BCS game. I just can’t support punishing someone for a crime without the constitutional standard of guilt being proven.

    Something else to take into consideration are the actions Floyd takes from now until September. If he enrolls in a 12-step program, addresses his obvious problem & maintains a sober living, does he deserve to be suspended months removed from the incident? I don’t think so. If he takes responsibility for his actions & uses this as a motivational tool to change his life & possibly carry the message to others, he should be cut some slack, if not rewarded. Those are some big if’s though, especially for someone who seems to have an inflated sense of entitlement & importance.

    • mannyboy8386 - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      Good point Kappy, if the person is claiming the arrest is unjust. Yet Floyd is apparently admitting he was drunk driving, so punishment is just.

      I disagree with with the many who imply that this young man is an alcoholic. We are in no position to say he needs a 12 step program or whatever. “Three incidents with alcohol” does appear like an imposing thing in print, but I have read that the prior incident was simply an open container in a car full of young persons – Floyd being one.

      I agree with you about judging Kappy – but, shouldn’t we ask ourselves before we judge Michael Floyd – “How many times did I dance with Demon Rum in my college years?”

    • txirish2 - Apr 9, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      Don’t agree with this. Like 90% of defendants, Floyd will take a plea in this case. But even if he didn’t, there is no reason for the university to require a constitutional standard of guilt in a criminal case. The constitutional standard is loaded for the side of the defense because we would rather let guilty people go free than to imprison innocents.

      Floyd could have run over 10 people and be found not guilty in a criminal case for a variety of reasons. Subsequently, he could be sued in a civil case and have to pay damages under a different standard of proof, despite the acquittal in the criminal case.

      Appealing to the criminal justice system as some sort of beacon of truth that every other institution should base it’s judgments on is foolish. Especially considering our own civil court system doesn’t do that.

    • bernhtp - Apr 9, 2011 at 2:01 PM

      Let’s not get hung up in legalisms here. The basic facts and circumstances of MF’s actions are not in dispute by anyone from what I can tell. What the St. Joe court does is largely independent of Notre Dame’s responsibility. BK does not need to wait on the court to decide on how to deal with MF.

      I hope that Mike really uses this near-death experience (in ways most meaningful to him) as an opportunity to learn and progress. I don’t know that he has a chronic problem with alcohol/addiction that would benefit from a 12-step or if it is mostly immature roudiness and (repeated) very bad judgment, but whatever it is, he needs to deal with it and in a way that everyone can see. This is certainly his last chance, at least with respect to Notre Dame.

      I think the university is handling this in a way consistent with its values.

  3. borromini - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Floyd hasn’t challenged the BAC results so there’s no need to wait for the legal process to be completed.

    Those that are disappointed with RL’s decision are forgetting that Kelly hasn’t doled out any final punishment…only the indefinite suspension. If Kelly in fact doesn’t suspend Floyd for at least one game…then I would be in full agreement and likewise disappointed.

    At the same time, I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m happy to have a chance to see Floyd play in his senior year.

  4. melikefootball - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    I’m sure the Irish nation will be able to rationalize this as the correct thing to do, letting a two time DUI offender off. Wonder why the group, MADD hasn’t come yelling. They must of gone to school in South Bend.

    • mannyboy8386 - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      Get your facts straight. Michael is a 1st time DUI. The other “offenses” were underage drinking. Did you ever have a beer before you were of legal age?

      • borromini - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM

        Even I made the mistake initially back in mid-March thinking it was his second DUI offense…and there is a world of difference between the two scenarios.

        But to the haters it won’t make a difference.

  5. whisk3yjack - Apr 10, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    The average punishment for DUI in Div. 1 football is a 1 game suspension: http://www.rakesofmallow.com/2011/4/8/2099794/recent-college-football-dui-arrests-and-suspensions

    Floyd has been stripped of his captaincy, and will miss all of spring ball. Based on the likely outcome of his court appearance in May, he will be doing a *lot* of community service.

    Kelly is very likely to sit Floyd for at least the USF game.

    How is Notre Dame scandalized by this punishment? It’s far more than most top programs would have done. I personally feel that any more than a one game suspension would be an over-reaction.

    If there’s any cause for embarrassment to the University, it’s those so-called fans and alumni feigning self-righteous indignation that Floyd wasn’t summarily sacrificed on the altar of ResLife like so many others before him.

    I applaud the University’s equanimity and fairness in dealing with Floyd *academically*. I trust Kelly and St. Joseph’s DA will do the same.

    • NotreDan - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      well said Jack. Damn I just love Kelly, how this thing was handled, the entire direction of the program and the school. Good stuff.

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