The biggest story entering the year is Garrett Wittels 56 game hitting streak. Things aren’t going all smooth with him as he was charged in December in the Bahamas with raping two 17 year old girls. Wittels and two friends posted bond of $10,000 and will appear at a prelimanary hearing on April 18 before Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis. The school announced on Wednesday that Wittels would be in the starting lineup to begin the season against SE Louisiana even though the charges are still pending. My question is “Should he be playing this season with the charges pending?”
Brian Foley, Editor of College Baseball Daily
We have heard for a long time about student-athletes getting in trouble with the law but is it the right thing to let Wittels play this season with these charges pending.
Two Middle Tennessee State Baseball players were charged on January 15th with rape. Athletic Director Chris Massaro stated “These are very serious charges and my role is not to determine guilt or innocence. That is the role of our judicial system. I decide who represents Middle Tennessee as part of our athletic program and have dismissed both players from the team effective immediately.”
FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia stated to the AP on Wednesday the following: “Here, you’re innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, Garrett Wittels will be playing on Friday and this weekend.”
If I was in Pete Garcia’s role, I would have suspended Wittels until the case was settled. As of right now, it looks to me that FIU is looking to make sure the baseball team gets all the national press from Wittels trying to break Ventura’s hitting streak instead of looking at doing the right thing.
Darren Heitner, Sports Agent Blog
Garrett Wittels and two of his friends have been accused of raping two 17-year-old girls in the Bahamas. Wittels has been charged with the criminal offense, but has not yet been convicted of the charge, and for all we know, may never be found guilty for the charged act. If Wittels raped any girl, he deserves all the terrible punishment that will be handed down on him, but until the accusation is supported by proof and it is determined, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Wittels raped anybody, he should not suffer any more consequences than the beating he is already taking in the media for putting himself in a situation he should have avoided at all costs.I commend Florida International University for standing by Garrett Wittels, not because he is two games away from tying the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a hit, but because there has been no proof that Wittels committed the act to which he has been charged. What if FIU decided to suspend Wittels indefinitely, only to find out that he is innocent? How can you ever correct that damage that would have been done? He would miss at least a part of his important senior season and would not be getting younger as far as scouts are concerned. FIU would basically be setting itself for a lawsuit to be filed by Wittels in the future. Let the investigation and criminal trial run its course. If Wittels is found to have raped any girl, I guarantee any suspension that FIU would levy at this point in time would look minuscule compared to his criminal penalty.
My views are similar to Mr. Foley’s. I feel that the correct course of action in this situation would be to sit Garrett Wittels until the case is over.
Regardless of whether the accused are innocent or guilty, the fact remains that they have been charged with a crime. FIU has decided to put themselves in a situation that has the potential to turn out very poorly for them if Garrett is not cleared of the charges. In this age of information where opinion and judgment are at our fingertips, the decisions made by the school will overshadow the pursuit of the record.
The indefinite suspension would have been the wisest course of action for FIU. Now they must prepare themselves for the worst case scenario that the record is not broken and the crime is not alleged. A potential black eye of that magnitude does not bode will on the image of any school, and it is now impossible to for the entire entity to escape unscathed.
What do you think? Should Wittels be suspended or let him play? Leave your comments below.