Invoking a deep commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, President Jack Miller of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) has announced severe penalties against two soccer coaches who apparently stole about 150 copies of the student newspaper, The Recorder, in early May.
At least one of the coaches, Shaun Green, was caught on video taking the newspapers. Often the thieves in such cases are hard to find, but the surveillance cameras on campus (like them or not) made this investigation easy.
As you might expect, the stolen issue of the newspaper included negative information about the soccer team. Editor Nicholas Proch told NBC Connecticut that the article concerned "the team’s disqualification from next year’s postseason due to NCAA academic sanctions."
In a press release yesterday, President Miller announced the punishment and the principles behind it, stressing that "we have built a culture of freedom of expression and freedom of the press and personally defended those freedoms even when the result is criticism of us."
The punishments listed in the press release are severe and even extend to the Athletics Department budget:
First, Assistant Coach Paul Wright will not have his contract renewed when it expires on June 14, 2012.
Second, mindful of Coach Green’s 27 years of service to Central, the University will sanction him as follows:
1. He will be suspended for 60 days without pay.
2. He will be suspended from coaching 4 games during the 2012 season.
3. He is required to issue a formal written apology to the University community, to the CCSU Athletics Department, and to the student reporters and editors of the Recorder.
4. He must make personal financial restitution to the Recorder for destroying the copies.
5. In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, a letter of suspension will be placed in his personnel file specifying the consequences for any further behavior demonstrating a lack of fitness in leadership.
Third, the CCSU Athletics Department will be penalized $100,000.
Prior to the imposition of Coach Green’s suspension without pay, he will have access to contractual due process rights and procedures under the collective bargaining agreement.
Kudos to President Miller for taking the theft seriously and addressing it as the violation of free speech that it was.