I was reading Dan Levy's Sporting Blog entry on his NFL Red Zone experience when a headline in the left column caught my eye: Binghamton Athletics Shames School, Offends Zoo. I could not believe my eyes. I knew things in my hometown have not been good, but I wondered what Binghamton High School athletics could possibly have done to shame the school and offend the Ross Park Zoo. After all, Binghamton is not exactly a huge metropolis, but we never went out cow-tipping.
Of course I had to open the article, and reading it allowed me to let go a partial sigh of relief. It was NOT Binghamton High School that offended the zoo. It was Binghamton University.
All Is Not Sunny in Binghamton: Despite the spin the Admissions department puts on Binghamton weather in the inset picture, the winter reality of the main picture
better reflects the on-going problems in the Binghamton University Athletic Department
Winter Image Courtesy of gr33nt4u under Creative Commons Licensing
And this time it was not the allegations of sex in exchange for athletic department donations or the international manhunt for a former player who fled the country to escape prosecution for assault.
I am tired of hearing that blight on Binghamton University, the men's basketball team, being referred to as a "zoo." ...
Not one of our tigers has been arrested with cocaine. No otter knocks over old ladies to shoplift condoms. Our bear doesn't have temper tantrums and storm off his exhibit. You won't find any of our lemurs busted for smoking pot. So, please, stop insulting zoos by comparing those criminals to us.Amanda J. Padwa, Business Manager, Ross Park Zoo
It seems that Bingo U's college basketball coach Kevin Broadus has brought some less than stellar citizens into the school. Six were recently dismissed from the team that went 23-8 last year, including one facing charges of cocaine distribution. Of course this has put an unwelcome spotlight on the school and the basketball program they are trying to build out of greed,
Yes, Tony Kornsheiser is an alumna of the school, but he went there when it was known as Harpur College. Harpur is just one of the many names the school has had over the years, and was we as teenagers used as a dereogatory term when the students, predominantly from Long Island, walked around liked the owned the place. And when those Lon Gislanders would come into McDonald's (where I worked) and demand their hamburgers and cheeseburgers have no mustard...well it was not pretty. And for crying out loud, the school is not even IN Binghamton. It is in VESTAL.
But I digress.
The university has never been an example of athletic success, with the exception of the wrestling team the school tried to disband some years back. It is a "brain" school, full of some very smart people. But they did like to party. When I was in high school, we always wanted to crash their parties and find out how college kids partied. We never did of course (and that is the part line answer!)
Their basketball program was non-existent. At one point they hired our really nice, but not so successful coach, David Archer (87-118 (0.424) in 8 seasons). Basketball just was not a priority then.
But things have changed and the Harpurs want their "fair share" of the NCAA Basketball Tournament money. By all accounts, they have done so in hiring Broadus. And as many writer's have said, he needs to be let go because he has no control of the program.
Why do I say this? Because this is the Triple-Cities of New York people, a dying community left to wallow in a legacy of ground-water pollution when IBM, which was born in the community and was key to getting the college established, up and left the community. So there is not a whole lot for students and student-athletes to do there. If a coach cannot maintain any control there, imagine waht would happen in a bigger city.
Note: To be fair, basketball player Emanuel "Tiki" Mayben was busted with possessing and selling cocaine in Troy, NY, and not in the greater Binghamton area.
In the end, it comes down to the school's integrity. And write now it is getting beaten up by the brutal New York City media and in the national sports media.
And finally, as a member of the original Seton Catholic Central High School "Zoo", led by the irrepressible Sean Keegan (pictured left) (what we called the student section at home games), I think we should be the ones offended.
We never got the chance to behave like the Binghamton University men's basketball team. Sister Paula always sat in the middle of us. We were not going to be given the chance to misbehave.
THAT is what you call institutional control.
Here is a round up of some of what is being written about the mess at Harpur:
Binghamton Athletics Shames School, Offends Zoo (Dan Levy, The Sporting Blog)
Please Stop Insulting the Zoo (Pete Thamel, The Quad - New York Times College Sports Blog)
Thirer: President should blame me (Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin)
Troubling times at Binghamton lead to new round of blame game (Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com)