August 24, 2000: Bar Thugs From College Sports

Score one for UGA!  Kenny Brunner isn’t coming to Athens this Fall and hopefully never.  University of Georgia President Mike Adams didn’t succumb to pressure and admit this guy.  That is the right decision because we don’t need him in Red and Black.

Brunner is a hot-shot hoopster who has attended Georgetown, Fresno State and that most renowned of all academic institutions, Southern Idaho. Simply stated, he is bad news. He has been accused of threatening a fellow Fresno State student with a Samurai sword and was acquitted. (At least he threatens in style.)  Later, he was accused of robbery and attempted murder but had the charges dropped before he went to trial. He made it a trifecta in outstanding character traits by leading a team boycott at Southern Idaho.

Anybody that thinks this kid has any interest whatsoever in getting an education needs to look in the dictionary under “N” to find their own photo next to “naïve.”

That this miscreant was acquitted of impersonating a Japanese warrior and an urban Jesse James is immaterial. It wasn’t like he was in the library studying when these incidents occurred. Now Brunner wanted to come to Athens, for God’s sake.

I really can’t blame Kenny Brunner for wanting to play basketball at UGA or basketball coach Jim Harrick for recruiting him. The fault lies with those of us who get our perspectives out of whack and think that beating Kentucky is more important than the hit we will take to our academic reputation. For all of our lip service to raising academic standards, the bottom line for many of us is win, baby, win.

I hear too many people talk about not beating Tennessee and Florida in football and not enough about catching Virginia and North Carolina academically.

I have watched the University of Georgia grow into an institute with a national academic reputation. This year’s freshman class, for example, has an average SAT score of 1200 and a grade point average of 3.7. That is fast approaching UVA and UNC territory.  Where UGA was once second choice, in case you couldn’t get in UVA or Chapel Hill, it is now among the premier choices and I couldn’t be prouder. The University of Georgia is in the unique position to excel both athletically and academically it doesn’t need the Pride of Southern Idaho and his antics.  He can take his Samurai sword and go elsewhere.

People like to jump on modern college athletics because of the number of kids coming through on their way to the NFL or the NBA. Frankly, I can’t distinguish that from a student spending a couple of years in the business school before leaving to start a dot-com company or a journalism student parlaying a contact into a job with a major television network. More power to them all.

Where I draw the line is in the character of those students. I don’t want a sword-wielding thug in the business school or the journalism college or the vet school or the art school, and I damn sure don’t want one wearing a basketball jersey with my school colors.

There is an outside chance that Brunner might apply again for spring semester (That’s when you go to class and stuff like that, Kenny.)  I can’t imagine what would make him more qualified then than now.

Mike Adams has done the right thing in the Brunner affair and will do it again if he has to.

I am proud of my university!