Kaufusi penalty too harsh or on target?

SEKOPE KAUFUSI

IN A PERFECT world, Sekope Kaufusi wouldn't have left himself open to a misdemeanor citation that has cost him his place on the Washington State football team. Was Mike Leach's decision to dismiss the popular linebacker too harsh? The right choice? A tough call with no easy answer? Cougfan.com went looking for reaction from some trusted WSU partisans and came away with a range of impression.

Here's what the people we talked with had to say:

"A team leader can't put himself in that situation. He's a great player, but at the same time I think he acted selfishly. When I was playing, it was very frustrating to see guys doing this kind of thing -- how much better could they have been had they kept their noses clean? ... In terms of the severity of the punishment, it's a tough call. Coach Leach had to step up in some way. One thing is for sure, he's sent a clear message that no one on the team is safe."
– Mkristo Bruce, 2006 All-Pac-10 and All-American defensive end

"I see this from two sides. In one respect, did he know clearly what the rule was? If so, then perhaps his dismissal is warranted. On the other hand, given the facts of the situation as we know them currently, this seems like an extreme reaction with very little due process. I believe in consequences for your actions, and I also believe that people can learn from their mistakes. I'm not sure chopping him off was the right thing to do."
– Matt Elisara, 1981 All-Pac-10 defensive lineman and former school vice principal and teacher

"Looking at it purely from a management standpoint, I find it fascinating that 'employees' at the same 'company' are adjudicated in dramatically different ways depending on who their immediate boss is. Klay Thompson was stopped while driving on a public street, gets suspended briefly -- and even draws a standing ovation when he apologizes to fans just before the team loses in overtime without him to UCLA. Kaufusi, meanwhile, gets dispatched. Every coach has rules, which is critical, but the range in how athletes from different sports are treated suggests that perhaps a department-wide policy might be worth exploring."
– John Witter, Cougfan.com co-founder

"I'm disappointed because he's such a talented player, a good kid and, I think, a leader. I'm conflicted. I don't think the infraction is that big of a deal, but at the same time Coach Leach said when he arrived that these are the rules and you have to play by the rules. That's cut and dried. Sekope made a mistake that is going to cost him his Cougar career and maybe his career as a college player. That is very disappointing and sad ... The other issue this raises for me is the Pullman Police. Do they really have nothing better to do than knock on the doors of private citizens? That bothers me. This is a misdemeanor, which means a fine. I think the Pullman Police view the WSU student body as their personal ATM machine."
– Ian Furness, KJR Radio host and WSU graduate

"If you're going to smoke it, at least be smart enough not to get caught. It's not like there wasn't a warning shot by Leach when he got to Pullman. It's an honor to be able to play at Washington State and the rules were spelled out. He chose to give up a $100,000 scholarship for a little pot. Maybe I'm old school, but it's not that tough to figure out. Leach meant what he said when he told the guys his rules, now he's sending a message: get on board."
– Paul Sorensen, CF.C columnist and 1981 All-American safety

"This hurts bad. A leaky Cougar defense now loses one of its best players because a snitch of a neighbor called the joke that it is the Pullman Police Department and complained about the smell of marijuana from Kaufusi's apartment. Team rules are team rules, and Kaufusi knew them but I find this whole thing ridiculous."
– WSU alum and booster who requested anonymity

Sekope Kaufusi profile

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