For Your Perspective: DUI Suspensions

Submitted by Gulo Gulo Luscus on August 14th, 2012 at 1:53 AM

The board has been abuzz in the wake of FItz Touissaint's July 24 DUI arrest.  In judging Fitz actions, commenters have generally fallen into one of two camps: drunk-driving hard-liners who see no room for discussion and those who take a wait and see/legal gray area approach.  I've seen reasonable arguments from both sides, but don't intend to tackle the moral/legal nuance of DUI or debate how/whether Hoke's response defines not only his own character but that of the program and university.  My goal is merely to put this in perspective by referencing incidents of drinking and driving from this offseason and how a variety of coaches responded.  If nothing else, it's clear that a one size fitz (had to) all solution doesn't exist.  For those who are interested in more points of comparison, check out this review of notable DUI incidents from the past few years.

[Edit: Or Seth's take after the Rucker incident last year, which of course is more detailed despite being a mere comment/reply to the OP.]


Player Team/Position Suspension Y U No Use Links?
James Sims Kansas/RB 3 games Leading rusher suspended for first 3 games of 2012 by new coach Charlie Weis.

Shayne Skov 

Stanford/LB 1 game Reinstated after an indefinite suspension stemming from February incident.
Cayman Shutter Hawaii/QB 4 games Backup quarterback will miss significant time after pleading no contest to a March DUI charge.
Chase Vasser Georgia/LB 2 games Starting LB will miss opener against Buffalo and week 2 against Mizzou.
Tanner McEvoy South Carolina/QB None Spurrier defends a decision not to suspend backup QB for "speeding and driving after consuming alcohol while under the age of 21" charges.  McEvoy transfers anyway.

Dominic Clark

Ohio State/DB Kicked off team Multiple offender.  Skeptical of Meyer's decision to revoke scholarship.
Justin Staples Illinois/LB Some game time "It could be a half, a game, or a number of games."
Josh Huff Oregon/WR Undetermined Pleaded not guilty and trial will occur after 2012 junior season.



Gulo Gulo Luscus

August 14th, 2012 at 2:33 AM ^

Intended for the board but it's somewhere between diary and forum post- mods you make the call.

Now that I'm the lamer replying to his own post, I'll add some opinion as commenter that I held back as OP.  FWIW I toe the line between drunk-driving is a horrible idea and "legal gray area" but...

In googling around, I didn't find many examples of coaches publicly handing out no suspension at all for DUI type offenses.  Perhaps those stories are just harder to find, but Hoke would be in a significant minority if he doesn't sit Fitz at all.  He's due in court on the 28th, so unless that gets changed I don't see any way to delay the decision and justify benching him for a game other than Alabama.

Secondly, I couldn't help but come across references to bad memories from 2008.  Both Stonum and Grady received 1 game for DUIs and went on to become repeat offenders.  Without no intent to question Rich Rod's judgment, I have to point out that Grady's .28(!!) BAC was probably a sign he needed intervention rather than a 1 game suspension.  Stonum missed an entire year and still slipped up.  I give Fitz the benefit of the doubt, but recent history makes me wonder if 1 game is enough to get the message across.


August 14th, 2012 at 9:48 AM ^

innocent until proven guilty.  Although I like that Hoke erred on the side of caution by suspending him.

If he is found guilty by a jury of his peers then he should miss significant time.  If found innocent we should appologize to him, make him King of the Big House for a day, and give him the key to the city.

DUI is a serious offense.  I think the lowered BAC to .08 is a crock but that is another story.  This is the law of the land.  Most of us on this board has driven with a higher BAC and by the grace of God, we did not kill ourselves or someone else.

Marky Mark let Chris L. Rucker play on a Saturday after his release on Thursday after noon.  This is after Marky Mark said, "if a player does not practice, he will not play".  Unless of course you have your best defensive backfield player and you are playing for a potential National Title.

state sux.  They do not lead by example.  We are not state.


August 14th, 2012 at 10:25 AM ^

only applies in court.  If a jury acquits Fitz on the reasonable doubt standard, but he has already admitted, or tacitly admitted, that he was drunk driving to Hoke, he is subject to punishment by the team.  That high standard of proof is designed to keep people out of prison, not playing in the Alabama game.


August 14th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

 It’s interesting debate. On one hand I can see missing some games as punishment and show that he has to be responsible. The judicial side of things


 If he was just an ordinary student, would he be prevented from participation in extracurricular events because of this? Would he be banned from theatre, music, or art if he was a fine arts major? Or even intramural sports, clubs or other activities? If you are talking scholarships; would you lose an academic, or artistic scholie from this event?

 As an undergrad, I had a couple of acquaintances that got arrested; one DUI and one, shall we say other items of intoxication, they were artists (theatre and painting/design) and both were allowed to continue to practice and participate, (in shows, competitions, etc.). Granted it was a few years ago, (ok more than a few), and the perception is different on these offenses today. They had to go to court also, and dealt with the judicial process, which will also decide Fitz and Clark’s fate, and punish or dismiss accordingly.

 Is it just the notoriety? Not trying to defend their actions, just hard to come down firmly on either side. These guys always get held to the standard; they shouldn't get extra benefits than ordinary students; shouldn't they get the same allowances?

Blue in Yarmouth

August 14th, 2012 at 8:25 AM ^

I think what you last couple of paragraphs shows is that suspending kids for a DUI doesn't correlate with rectifying the behaviour. Whether one game or an entire season, we have our own experience that shows neither of those options taught the offenders the intended lessons. 

What I am getting at is perhaps suspension is the best way to get the intended outcome of having the player learn from his mistakes. Maybe there are better punishments that might actually lead to the player doing the right thing the next time.

Now I'm not saying a player should never be suspended for a DUI (most here have heard my stance on what I think of DUI's before), but perhaps it is better to punish a first time offender in other ways. We know the law will punish them pretty severely (at least they will if it is anything like it is in Nova Scotia), so add to that other punishment and I don't see a problem with not sitting out a game. 

I also wouldn't have an issue with BH deciding to sit him for a game, so either way is fine for me. I think BH has shown he takes players breaking the rules very seriously and I have faith that he will do the right thing here.


August 14th, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

I definitely agree with you about the potential effectiveness.  As others have noted in earlier threads, suspending a player (especially one of Fitz's caliber) hurts his teammates as well. 

I'm curious what people think about essentially giving Fitz (or any player in a similar first offense situation) the choice of two punishments.  He can either sit out 1-4 games (or whatever is deemed acceptable), or he can give up his driving privileges entirely.  No car, no driving for any reason, and if he's seen doing it the suspension takes effect.  The ban could last the season, the school year, or until he graduates as necessary.

Would taking that away be enough for those who demand punishment (I personally would not be upset if he plays, so maybe my opinion is slanted that way)?  It seems like it would demand a sacrifice of Fitz and only Fitz (and maybe the poor folks he has to talk into giving him rides).  It would also directly address the problem.  If he can't drive, he's not going to be drinking AND driving.  It also makes him directly accountable to his teammates since going in he knows that if he gets caught driving a car he's missing a quarter of the season.

Curious what others think about that as a potential solution (combined with the stair running, practices missed already, and legal requirements).  My view is that nobody really needs to drive if they live in Ann Arbor, and if they've already abused the privilege once taking it away might actually prevent a situation like we had with Grady or Stonum.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 14th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

It sounds like a reasonable course of action to me, and one that might actaully teach a kid a lesson. I have always thought that punishments should fit the crimes and in this case taking away his ability to drive for a driving offense seems sensible.

I know a lot of people here have mentioned the punishments Fitz has already (and will continue to) endured are minor. Many years ago now, I played in the CHL and when we got punished for things similar to this the punishments the coaches would hand out were not minor and did teache players a lesson because they were handled by the team. It made you more accountable to your teammates by showing you that your actions effected more than just yourself. 

Anyway, as I said I don't mind one way or another which way BH goes with this but I do see a chance for a guy who has been sticking to the straight and narrow for his first two years and then commits his first offense this far from the season opening to be able to get his punishment dealt with prior to the season.


August 14th, 2012 at 6:40 AM ^

I looked at your link and couldn't help but notice that most 1st time offenders received a one game suspension.  Only 3 were not suspended at all and two of those were under Tressel.  


August 14th, 2012 at 6:58 AM ^

I'm pretty sure the state of Michigan will hand out a pretty severe penalty without needing the aid of the University of Michigan. As Hoke said, "he will continue to suffer." There is really no need to make his hill any steeper to climb than anyone else that makes the same mistake. Whether he plays against Bama or not, I hope he learns from this.


August 14th, 2012 at 11:05 AM ^

voluntarily on the steps of Michigan Stadium at the hands of Coach Wellman for weeks. Their readmission into practice suggests they have met some milestone of suffering, and passed their summer classes without repeat offenses.

When and whether they play or not probably depends on completion of continued voluntary suffering, and how they approach their legal process (i.e., no bullshit excuses, truth and accepting consequences).

Johnny Blood

August 14th, 2012 at 8:29 AM ^

What happens in your job if you're pulled over for a DUI?

I don't know at mine offhand (and not really something you go ask HR about).

But I was just thinking about this and wondering if there is or should be any correlation to the consequences we would face in our life / jobs and those faced by student athletes in theirs.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 14th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I would think most companies have similar policies, but I think he is talking about outside work (which is more similar to what Fitz did).

Part of my job covers occupational health and safety with our local school board. Due to some drastic cuts in our education system in the province that was a position that got axed and because of my mothers involvement on the board of directors and my medical background I volunteered to take on the coordinating role with the health and safety division (big mistake too).

Anyway, during my time doing that job I have had two pretty similar situations: 1) where the boards ceo was caught driving a company vehicle on his own time while drunk and 2) a principal at our biggest high school and closely affiliated with M.A.D.D. got caught drunk driving on his own time as well.

The CEO (because he was driving a company vehicle) was forced to take early retirement and the principal was left alone. Had the CEO not been driving a company car he would have been fine too, but he was. 

To me in these cases the law works fine for holding people accountable for their actions, and I don't see it as being a whole lot different in the case of these two players. It's their first offense, but if a pattern of behavior and poor choices emerges, much stiffer penalties should be handed out in subsequent times.

Johnny Blood

August 14th, 2012 at 9:08 PM ^

Yes, this is what I was getting at -- if there are no repercussions for us in our jobs (aside from the obvious and necessary repercussions from the legal system) when we're on our own time, should it be the same for student athletes as well?  Or should they be held to a higher standard since they are essentially public figures?  Or is it simply a black & white situation because they have more than likely signed a "code of conduct" where actions like this one are more than likely specifically prohibited? 

I clearly believe they do need to be held accountable through the legal system with no preferential treatment simply because they are athletes.  Beyond that, it can get a bit murky -- especially since if what I suspect is true that we all don't face the same sort of secondary punishment in our workplace that student athletes do. 



Tulip Time

August 14th, 2012 at 9:18 AM ^

It sucks that we even need to have this conversation, but there's no doubt in my mind that he needs to be suspended at least one game. If we opened the season against Western Michigan, I don't think there would be any debate. Because we need him so badly for Alabama, we're searching for any loophole we can find to not suspend him and still feel our sense of self-righteousness about our coach.  Losing Fitz for 'bama is a crappy situation, but drunk driving is a really, really crappy thing to do.


August 14th, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

Exactly. When we first heard the news, the board was overwhelming for a suspension of at least a game but I think as the shock and anger has worn off, with Alabama looming as you say people are trying to rationalize playing him. All I know is I'd hate to see Brady Hoke next to Jim Tressel on that list you linked as incidents that resulted in zero games



August 14th, 2012 at 9:55 AM ^

innocent until proven guilty?  I agree that if guilty, multiple game suspension.  Until proven guilty, no suspension.

This is regardless of what team we are playing.  Some guys can get their trials deferred until after the season. 

I dont want anyone: me, MGrowOld, Section 1, any Michigan Athlete or US Citizen to be tried by the offense to anyone here.  However, if found guilty by a jury of his peers, nail his ass to the wall.


August 14th, 2012 at 10:26 AM ^

Innocent until proven guilty isn't appropriate for all situations. Hoke has talked to Fitz, and knows the story much better than we do, and probably better than will come out in the courtroom. He doesn't need proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" or a conviction--if he believes that Fitz drove while intoxicated, he should suspend him. After all, there are all kinds of suspensions based on violations of team rules that aren't crimes, why should Hoke be more patient/lenient because this was more serious?

Innocent until proven guilty is a good thing for outsiders like us to keep in mind when we are upset by some actions--we've certainly seen ridiculous charges this year--but it's not something Hoke needs to follow.


August 14th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

For punishment through the legal system, yes, innocent until proven guilty. For punishment from the football team, I think all Hoke has to do is ask Fitz what happened to make a decision. Given what we do know about the incident (pulled over for running light, blew .12) I would find it very hard to believe that Fitz will be anything but cooperative. As far as blog opinions, they are just that. It's just commentary on the situation as we understand it. 


August 14th, 2012 at 9:32 AM ^

If I was a coach I would never suspend a player. The only time one of my players would miss game time is if they were in jail.



Edit: why is everyone so wroked up about drunk driving these days ? If you are able to make it to your car your not too drunk to drive. Driving is so easy, the only negative of drunk driving is that you don't care, as long as you tell yourself the importance of caring and driving well nothing will ever go wrong.


August 14th, 2012 at 9:48 AM ^

I don't know if that was meant to be sarcastic or a poor attempt at humor, but neither worked.

Do you have any idea how many lives are lost each year, and families affected, by someone's stupid decision to drink and drive?

I still don't know if you were trying to be funny, or are perhaps the stupidest person to ever live, but I hope for all our sakes that if you decide to drink and drive, you get caught before you do yourself and/or someone else irreparable damage.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 14th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

I'd like to bring you into the er on a night when we have an MVA due to a drunk driver. The very unfortunate thing about drunk drivers is most often times they end up walking away from the chaos they created. Too many times I have worked multiple people injured in an accident while the drunk is sitting in another room with handcuffs on and a policeman outside his room while he undergoes some bloodwork.

I'm sorry, but people like you make me sick, and I'm not even one of the many people who have lost a loved one to drunk aholes that decide to drive, but I have seen the devistation it creates. Do every one a favor and grow up.

If I remember right you are one of the poster who chimes in on every thread about weed saying how stupid it is that it is illegal. If that's the case it seems you are just one of those people (likely a teenager) who has no respect at all for the law and should probably try and figure out why that is. 


August 14th, 2012 at 10:25 AM ^

I've been deliberately staying away from this topic because its a mixed bag of emotional mush.  I think more than a few of us on this blog have had friends and family fall to drunk drivers.  I lost an uncle, a high school girlfriend, and my best friend lost his sister who was also a close friend of mine.   These aren't fresh wounds as all of these deaths happened two decades or more ago, but they do give me some of the victim's perspective.  I understand that there was no victim in Fitz's incident.  Its still a crime, and one that many of us have committed and not been caught.  So there's that.

Now, I want to beat Alabama as much as the next guy on this blog and I have tried to rationalize playing him.  I think this is a difficult decision for Hoke, but I think Hoke sits him.  There might be some gamesmanship going on, i.e., trying to make it a game time decision to make Alabama prepare for both Rawls and Touissaint, but in the long run, given the carelessness of it, the precident he has to set, and the sensibilities of the greater alumni base, (not the rabid mgousers), I don't think Hoke has much of a choice.    If I'm wrong, meh, I'm not going to burn my Michigan memorobilia or think less of the staff.  They have tough decisions to make.


August 14th, 2012 at 10:54 AM ^

If the moral argument:
-He broke the law, he could have killed someone, we need to set an example for other players, we want our coaches to practice what they preach about educating and helping young men mature. not enough for you, there's the pragmatic argument:
-He could play and we could still very likely lose and then look all the more foolish.

If you would suspend him for a cupcake game, but not for a tough game, you've got the wrong priorities.

Now what I'm wondering is, is this decision really taking the coaching staff so long, or is this just denying information of player availability like with injuries?


August 14th, 2012 at 11:25 AM ^

I did a more thorough study during the Rucker thing last year. Findings:


There have been plenty of DUIs by college football players over the last few years. Rucker's case is interesting because he was involved in the Great Battle of Pot-Luck last year. Note that a 1-game suspension for a first-time offender is the norm, but some schools went well beyond that.

Player School Coach Result Impact
Carlos Dunlap Florida Urban Meyer Suspended 1 game: SEC championship. Played in Sugar Bowl then declared for NFL draft FL lost its defensive MVP for the game of the year
Maurice Shaw Idaho Robb Akey Suspended 1 game: conf. opener v. Louisiana Tech Idaho lost to LA Tech 48-35 without their leading receiver
Donatvious Jackson Georgia Mark Richt Suspended 6 games (also hit a car). Jackson is transferring Backup RB, minor loss
Tavarres King Georgia Mark Richt Was his car that Jackson was driving (King drunk too). Suspended 1 game. GA pasted LA-Lafayette w/out him
Demetre Baker Georgia Mark Richt Kicked off team (Richt cited zero-tolerance policy on arrests) Not a threat to play
Damon Evans Georgia Mark Richt He's the AD. He resigned Led his Dawgs to the '10 Fulmer Cup
Kyle Theret Minnesota Tim Brewster Suspended for part of Spring Ball and first 2 games Starting S: Missing 2nd game was a contributing factor in South Dakota loss
Kevin Grady Michigan Rich Rodriguez Suspended 1 game, plus all of July from team, but practiced in Fall. Lost spot on depth chart for all of '08. Started at FB late in '09 Grady wouldn't have made the difference in '08
Jason Douglas Pitt Dave Wannstedt He actually hit a pedestrian so more serious, but like Rucker had previous issues. Still in jail, probably will be kicked of team Was low on depth chart anyway.
Brandon Hogan WVa. Bill Stewart Suspended one game (had a urinating in public charge in April). Did not start v. LSU Starting CB but WVU beat Maryland N.E.way
Doug Worthington Ohio St Jim Tressell No suspension, but did not start (OSU has a mandatory 2-game suspension for 2nd DUI arrest; genocide is 8 games) YSU gained 17 rushing yards in the series Worthington missed.
Alex Boone Ohio St Jim Tressell No suspension. Sought "treatment" before fall ball None
Michael Buchanan Illinois Ron Zook Suspended 2 games. Returned for Ohio State. Illini beat S-Ill. and NIU
Jon Casillas Wisconsin Bret Bielema While driving moped. No suspension "handled in-house" None
Broderick Binns Iowa Kirk Ferentz Suspended for part of Fall Ball and 1st game Wasn't needed v E.Ill.
Shiloah Te'o BYU Bronco Mendenhall Kicked off team (first offense). Transferred to Oregon St. Would have started in '09
Peter Lalich Oregon St Mike Riley Boating DUI. Kicked off team Would not have started in 2010
Preston Parker Florida State Bobby Bowden Had a previous weapons charge. Was dismissed from team Might have been FSU's best receiver in '09-'10

The Ohio State ones really jump out. The only other recent DUI that didn't earn a suspension was for a moped (Wisconsin). The other thing that jumps out is that most of the kids who got a DUI after a previous incident were kicked off the team.

I guess it matters what Rucker's role was in last year's Pot Luck Attack, but a 1-game suspension is what you'd expect for a guy with no previous issues. If you imagine the Dorm Attack never occurred, Dantonio has a typical Big Ten record for punishments. The problem is, it did occur, and it wasn't the first time that something like it occurred under Dantonio. The result: two guys who shouldn't have been on the team anyway were kicked off, those charged were suspended for the bowl game, and one guy was given transfer papers after testifying against his teammates. Since then, this program continues to act like it didn't happen.

CO Blue

August 14th, 2012 at 11:31 AM ^

Why is missing game time the standard punishment for criminal behavior?  I would rather see a player lose driving privileges and have mandatory substance abuse counseling for drunk driving, and perhaps do some community service educating incoming freshmen on the dangers of alcohol abuse (at least for first time offenders). For situations like Mr. Clark's, I would like to see him make reparations of his own, compensating the victim of theft for his/her loss and then addressing the larger dorm community as a whole. The community service aspect might include an educational piece on dorm safety or some such.




August 14th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

I posted something like this in the other thread, but basically I think it has more to do with establishing a meaningful consequence for others on the team to consider before doing something stupid. Running a tight program that can say they take pride in "character" and "accountability" involves doing things like this. Not living up to the standards of the program means you don't play for the program, period. I agree, for the offending individual, there are probably more direct and appropriate ways to teach the lesson and I have no doubt Fitz and Clark are getting plenty of other lessons from the legal system and the S&C coaches.


August 14th, 2012 at 12:15 PM ^

is making it clear not only to Toussaint, but the other players, that this kind of behavior is not to be tolerated.  If Toussaint plays against Alabama, why would any other player be worried that he might miss a game if he were caught driving under the influence.  I think Hoke should suspend him for two games.  That will send a sure fire message that it's not going to be tolerated and that, in turn, may reduce the number of times we have to deal with the issue for the foreseeable future. 

Charlie Chunk

August 14th, 2012 at 5:48 PM ^

I think a (1) game suspension is enough of a price to pay.  I think he'll learn from it.  He's just a kid that made a bad decision.  Thank God something worse didn't happen.  Kids make mistakes.

Drop him from the team if he gets popped again.


October 9th, 2012 at 2:29 AM ^

If you have been arrested for drunk driving for the first time, you may be wondering what is going to happen next and what you will have to do. If this was not your first drunken driving offense, you may find that consequences have changed since your last arrest. On Tuesday in Bakersfield, CA, the courts handed down a murder conviction to a drunk driver in a boating incident that took the life of Sal Rodriguez on Lake Buena Vista in 2010. Justin Ennis has been sentenced to 15 years to life in the conviction, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the state of California and the nation. Ennis has a prior DUI conviction as well as a charge for 2nd degree murder in a separate case for which he accepted a plea deal. The penalties and requirements for drunken driving vary somewhat from state to state, but due to the effort of advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, all 50 states have passed laws intended to crackdown on drunk driving by increasing penalties and consequences.