Baylor's Brittney Griner Deserved a Harsher Punishment

Luke McConnellCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2010

Throughout the years, athletes have been involved in fights and other altercations during the heat of competition and in some cases, been given extremely harsh penalties for their actions.

The most recent person in the mind of the sports world is LeGarrette Blount of Oregon.  Blount punched a Boise State player in the face after the Ducks loss to the Broncos in September and was suspended for the year.  Blount was later reinstated based on his hard work and change in attitude.

Lax penalties tend to come up just as much as the harsh ones.  Players seem to get off easy and not really suffer for their irresponsible actions on the field of play.  

That is the case we have now with Baylor's Brittney Griner.  

On Wednesday night, Griner shocked the college basketball world by landing a punch right in the face of Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle, breaking Barncastle's nose.  

The punch came as a result of Barncastle and Griner getting tangled up in the post and Barncastle slinging Griner off of her, almost throwing her to the floor.  You can see the sequence of events here .  

On Thursday, the NCAA handed down its mandatory one game suspension, saying that any other disciplinary action would be handled by Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey internally.  The one game would be the Lady Bears' season finale on Sunday at home against Texas.  

Later Thursday evening, Mulkey announced that Griner was going to be suspended an additional game, meaning the freshman would miss Baylor's first round game of the Big 12 tournament, whenever that may occur.  The Lady Bears need to win on Sunday to receive a first round bye in next weekend's tournament.  

Two games.  That's it.

I don't know about the majority of people out there, but I don't feel that's enough.  I feel that is hardly punishment at all.  

These next two games hardly have any sort of relevance on Baylor's season.  Baylor is in the NCAA tournament without question and so these upcoming games only deal with how Baylor will b playing coming into it.  

If the Lady Bears beat Texas on Sunday, which would be pretty impressive as they are already still without team captain Melissa Jones, they would secure a first round bye in the Big 12 tournament.

That second round game would be Griner's second missed game and it could be a tough one.  

In the end however, it is meaningless on how Baylor's season is going to end up.  They already know that they are going to the Big Dance and know that making a run in the Big 12 tournament is only icing on the cake of a successful year.

Unfortunately, coach Kim Mulkey knows that as well.

Mulkey had a chance to really lay down the law on this issue and make a statement that even though Griner is Baylor's premiere player, she is not above a very tough disciplinary action.

When faced with that opportunity, Mulkey caved.  I don't pretend to know her motivations or mindset.  I just know the past.

After the 2007 season, Mulkey kicked a girl off the team for a slight altercation.  There weren't a lot of details about the incident, but a couple of things stood out.

First, the girl was a freshman.  Second, no one really knew who she was.  

Now we have Griner, who everyone in the country knows about, clocking a girl in the face under the glare of television lights and thousands of people and she gets...a two game suspension?

It appeared to be fairly simple to kick someone who didn't have much of an impact out of the program after an internal affair, but when it came down to give the star player a punishment after a widely publicized, public incident, all that came was a slap on the wrist.

There has been a lot of dissent close to the program as well.  An anonymous source had this to say about the issue:

"I don't respect or appreciate it [the punishment]. If we lose Sunday, which is a possibility, we don't get a bye in the conference tourney so we play a lower team that we can beat without her [Griner].  Then she comes back and plays where we should be playing if we win this weekend.  Coach Mulkey is only doing enough to make it look like she has punished her but she still seems to get away.  It's whatever."

Does this incident define Griner?  Absolutely not.  

As sports fans, we understand people do stupid things in the heat of competition. It happens. We've all done something while competing that we regret.  

Having seen Griner play on several occasions in person, I can tell you she is not a dirty player and actually handles herself extremely well on the court.  She is the source of constant double and triple teams and is fouled unmercifully throughout the game, not all of which are called.

That is still no excuse for her actions Wednesday night.  At no point should someone retaliate in the way that she did.  Griner basically just snapped.

Unfortunately, the track record isn't what should be analyzed in making a decision in disciplinary action. A murderer's whole life isn't analyzed in a trial. Only the incident that caused him to be on trial in the first place. And the punishment is served based on that incident.

That scenario did not happen with this situation.  

Griner will sit two games and then return and continue as if nothing ever happened.  

Something did happen and it should have resulted in her not playing another minute this year.  

But that didn't happen, and we'll see Griner come postseason basketball time.