I understand The Post's obligation to keep the public informed about the investigation into the death of Len Bias and any possible violations of law. I am puzzled, however, by the implication that the university itself is in some way responsible and that the institution has thereby been deeply wounded.
The university consists of some 40,000 students and several thousand faculty members, many of them with national and international reputations earned by research, publications and superior teaching. The basketball team involves only a handful of students, and most of them have been accused of nothing.
Len Bias and his friends were not little children neglected by teachers responsible for their safety. They were, and are, adult men responsible for their own conduct. The university offers a relatively few gifted athletes a free education and the opportunity to qualify for lucrative professional careers.
For minimal fees, it offers tens of thousands of nonathletes the same opportunities. Whether an individual student takes full advantage of what we offer or wastes his time and engages in self-destructive behavior is entirely up to him. We can advise and try to inspire, but we cannot coerce. The students' ambitions and moral habits are ultimately their own choices.
Professors cannot force their students to attend classes and pass courses. Athletic coaches concerned with eligibility may try, but they have no moral responsibility for doing so. An athletic coach should be held responsible for expertise in teaching his sport and for trying to inspire his players with his own sound moral example. By all accounts, Coach Driesell has done this and more. Expecting him to supervise the off-season activities of adult men on a 24-hour basis is patently unfair.
The death of Len Bias was a terrible tragedy, but it was not caused by the negligence or failure of the university. If he had followed the urging and the example of his teachers and coaches, Len Bias would have graduated and would be facing a magnificent future. The university community is grief-stricken, but we are not to blame, and our academic achievements and qualifications are not diminished.