Alabama continues to make headlines for success on the field. However, headlines off the field threaten to take some of the credibility the school has accrued during its BCS Championship reign.
Four Crimson Tide football players were arrested in an apparent on-campus set of robberies that were committed Monday morning. On Friday, the University announced that three of the four players involved (Eddie Williams, Tyler Hayes and D.J. Pettway) have been barred from campus pending a formal review.
After the embarrassing publicity brought to the school, head coach Nick Saban and everyone involved with the program, this is the best choice for all parties involved.
The Associated Press broke the news Friday morning (via Sports Illustrated) indicating that Brent Calloway would be the only participant not barred in the decision.
All four players were suspended indefinitely from the football program on Tuesday, through a statement from the school's official website (via Yahoo! Sports). The arrested athletes have all posted bail, and are awaiting further discipline from both law enforcement officials and the school itself.
If you haven't seen the news about the incidents, Alabama's school newspaper (The Crimson White) provided all the details after interviews with the victims. Some of the descriptions are graphic in nature, and provide even further disgust to the situation at hand.
Nick Saban released a statement on the matter (via AL.com) and his tone was clear — this behavior is not acceptable for any member of his college football program:
"The young men charged are indefinitely suspended as we continue to gather information and talk to the appropriate people. The university and football program have strict guidelines regarding issues of this magnitude. This behavior is unacceptable for any student-athlete at the University of Alabama and not representative of our football program."
In a show of consistency across the board, the school responded in the same way that Saban protruded in his statement. It's a quality development in an otherwise troubling story from Tuscaloosa, and it appears that all four of these student-athletes are in jeopardy of losing their standing as college football players.
The news comes in the same time frame as a suspension on the basketball team, as head coach Anthony Grant sent three players home (via Sporting News) for a violation of team rules prior to an SEC showdown against LSU.
Although the news is terrible for the students involved and the school's reputation, these kind of measures are ensuring that the message is coming in loud and clear to students in trouble — forgiveness is earned, not expected.
What's next for these four Alabama athletes?
It's a stance that should be applauded by the public eye.
Saban is already cracking down on the issue internally, and there's no doubt he supports the school's decision to bar the students from campus. In the wake of these attacks, there's no place for the students on campus until this whole thing works itself out.
The show of consistency extends from the university president all the way down to the head coach—a positive sign that Saban will likely use these four as examples for the rest of the current and future players in the program.