Bad News for Griz

By Beacon Staff

Three arrests are sure to be the Montana news topic of interest today: University of Montana junior running back Greg Coleman, junior defensive end Michael Shelton and redshirt freshman cornerback Jeremy Pate were arrested early Sunday morning.

The charges are serious – felony kidnapping, assault with a weapon and robbery – and add to the litany of off-field problems both UM and Montana State University have encountered in recent years. Sunday’s arrests bring the total of UM football players arrested this year to at least six.

Griz and Cat fans expressed similar frustrations on fan blogs Monday morning as word of the arrests spread. Disappointment. Embarrassment. Questions challenging recruitment practices and asking who, if anyone, will lose their job over this.

As a UM student, I echoed those feelings this morning at the news. I normally look forward to this time of year, when the state’s rivalry comes to a head at the end of the season. The arrests seem to have dampened many spirits on both teams’ sides, including mine.

But, as one fan pointed out on a Cat blog, it’s important to remember that when UM and MSU face off this weekend the young men on the field are still worthy of accolades and support. The majority of student athletes are hard-working individuals, not criminals.

And, as charges against Coleman, Shelton and Pate progress, it’s important that Montana residents – football fans, or not – stay involved in dialogue with the universities – not comparing which school’s felonies are worse, but looking for constructive improvements to the state’s athletic program.