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Dick Harmon: Gary Patterson, TCU show character after drug bust

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15 2012 9:09 p.m. MST

TCU coach Gary Patterson calls to his team after a penalty in the first half of the Poinsettia Bowl NCAA college football game against Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, in San Diego.

Lenny Ignelzi, Associated Press

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TCU's administration wasted no time reacting the right way to Wednesday's breaking news that DEA agents arrested 17 students, four of them football players, for dealing drugs.

This is the way university administrators must act — quick, swift, uncompromising — if they are to keep credibility when serious issues surface. Take note, Penn State.

I like the reaction by TCU coach Gary Patterson, who told reporters hours after the news broke that DEA agents, using a long sting operation, had arrested four of his players. "I was first shocked, then hurt, and now I'm mad."

Patterson ordered a surprise "pop" drug testing of his entire team back on Feb. 1 when he caught wind of trouble from a recruit who told him he was headed another direction because of TCU football drugs. One of Patterson's players, Ty Horn, is quoted in an affidavit to an undercover cop that "only 20 people (players) (on the roster) would pass the drug test."

If this becomes the case, this is a bigger story than appeared during public discovery Wednesday. The four football players identified in arrest reports are DJ Yendrey, Tanner Wilson Brock, Devin Johnson and Ty Horn. Dealing drugs as mentioned in the allegations is a felony.

This is a chance for Patterson to show his character. This is a tough one.

Patterson has a right to be mad. Sports Illustrated recently praised Patterson for running a program that did extensive background checks on recruits. I've always believed him to be a straight shooter and honorable coach.

"There are days people want to be a head football coach, but today is not one of those days," Patterson said on Wednesday.

On Feb. 1, the day that Patterson ordered his TCU squad to undergo a surprise drug test, an undercover cop reportedly was able to make a buy later that night from one of his players, who gave a report on Patterson's move.

"I failed that (expletive deleted) for sure," the player told the policeman, but added he was "not too worried," it was not a big deal "because there might be about 60 people being (expletive deleted)" in the testing.

If so, that puts TCU football in a precarious position. If a bulk of the team failed that drug test, what would be the university's reaction and policy?

Patterson explained on Wednesday.

"Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student-athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period. Our program is respected nationally for its strong ethics, and for that reason the players arrested today were separated from TCU by the university. I believe strongly that young people's lives are more important than wins or losses."

Patterson is absolutely right. And his next statement echoes what I have heard former BYU coach LaVell Edwards say, that issues with athletes mimic society as a whole and the other student population.

"This situation isn't unique to TCU — it is a global issue that we all have to address. This isn't just about bad decisions made by a small percentage of my team. It is about a bigger issue across this country and world," Patterson said.

TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte released the following statement:

"I expect our student-athletes to serve as ambassadors for the university and will not tolerate behavior that reflects poorly on TCU, the athletics department, our teams or other student-athletes within the department. We educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community and it is disappointing to me, personally, when they fall far short of these goals."

In reading the affidavit on a key TCU player, it is very interesting that the undercover cop asked him on Feb. 1 if he could get him Xanax or hydrocodone pills. That player told him he knew a girl who could get some, that he once bought pills like that from former football teammates but they'd graduated. "So, it's been harder to get," he said.

Not good medicine for Frog football.

I wish Patterson, a former Utah State assistant, and one of the nation's most respected coaches, all the luck in the world.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

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