KILLIAN: Golson’s second chance follows disturbing trend

Notre Dame football returned to national prominence last year with a berth in the National Championship game. Former quarterback Everett Golson was a huge reason for the Irish’s rise, but during the offseason he was dismissed from the team for a previously undisclosed academic violation.

Golson admitted in a candid Tuesday interview with Sports Illustrated that his expulsion came from “poor judgment in a test situation” and rather indirectly clarified that he had cheated on a test.

His admission should come as a surprise to NCAA President Mark Emmert. In a forum at the Marquette Law School back on Sept. 16, Emmert claimed cheating among student athletes has gone down recently.

“If you talk to people who have been in the collegiate sports world for 20, 30, 40 years, they will routinely tell you that there’s less cheating going on,” Emmert said. “Not necessarily because people are more admirable, but because it’s harder to get away with.”

Notre Dame could be lauded for not allowing their star player to get away with cheating. It is, after all, one of the top academic programs in the country, or at least that’s how the public perceives it.

But if that’s the case, why did Notre Dame tell Golson that he could reapply for the spring 2014 semester? In doing so, wouldn’t he be taking the spot of a prospective student who maybe doesn’t have a history of academic dishonesty?

By allowing him the opportunity to return, regardless of what school policy may be, Notre Dame is reinforcing a hurtful national mindset. Basically, if you’re a good enough athlete, eventually no one will care what violation or crime you may have committed in the past.

Take Tuesday’s highly anticipated return of Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls. The young former MVP has rapidly become the face of the franchise. But how might his story have unfolded had he been exposed for allegedly allowing a stand-in to take his ACT?

Every college student, athlete or not, is given a thorough briefing on the penalties associated with cheating. At Marquette, students have the principles of academic dishonesty beaten into their heads during syllabus week at the beginning of every semester.

It can be argued that Golson served his punishment and should be given a second chance. Sports are all about championing individual comebacks anyway.

But how much of Golson’s opportunity comes from who he is on the football field? Would an average Notre Dame student get the same treatment had they been caught and expelled for the same violation?

This sends a message to other student athletes that even if you break what could be considered the golden rule of academics, you could be back on the field or court, representing your university within a semester or two.

Golson’s case is not by any means exclusive to this argument, as cheating occurs at all levels of education amongst students and student athletes alike. His situation just happens to be the most recent high profile example of a disturbing pattern. Ultimately, his second chance should come as an insult to academically honest students across the country who may sacrifice high grades for personal integrity.