Comments about ‘Jeff Benedict: The making of a Sports Illustrated cover story: The investigation comes to Utah and Bingham High School’

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Published: Wednesday, March 2 2011 11:00 a.m. MST

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Two Cents
Springville, Utah

Sounds like an interesting article. I may just have to buy this one at the newsstand.

Fred Vader
Oklahoma City, OK

Maybe I'm not up on the latest "peace signs", but are these two upstanding football scholarship recipients flashing gang signs in their picture, or is it the new "peace sign"?

If gang signs, then was there really any remorse for the crime committed?

Layton, UT

FYI, you can get the article online on the Sports Illustrated webpage.

Cedar City, UT

The big question here is balancing mercy with justice. Are other non-football playing kids getting breaks to get into college? If someone shows promise academically or in music, but makes a similar mistake do they get a lessor plea and a scholarship? Are we just pushing a problem down the road by sweeping it under the rug because someone can run, catch, tackle etc. On the other hand are we not allowing someone to turn their life around for making a mistake. Tough questions that are hopefully being brought out of the dark.

Silly Rabbit
Magna, UT


High School football is the money maker for schools, so some administrators do turn their back on their football programs. If the stands are full then so are the coffers, yes I understand schools need the $$$ but at what cost. Integrity, class, good sportsmanship must win out at the high school level at all costs because our youth are being taught these lessons from these issues that are there in sports. But it seems that the lessons that they are learning is just the opposite.

Hey we that are evolved and watch HS Athletics see what is going on, but what do we do?

Salt Lake City, UT

Somewhere there is a home with parents who have taught their son to have integrity, honesty and to work to earn his place. He has followed their advice, played with integrity, respect and sportsmanship. He has heeded the counsel of mentors, coaches and leaders. He has excelled to the point of being next on the list of candidates to get a scholarship. He has earned his place.

However he being next isn't good enough. His athletic accomplishment is great, just not the best. He is not perfect but he has no faults of character either. It's not his only chance to go to college and be saved from his background. It's not his only dream.

He will not get the scholarship from the preferred schools.

The preferred schools want to win...whatever the cost.

Other than Military schools, some faith based schools and a very few schools with high standards of conduct this young man(or woman) is told the world is not what he was taught.

But lowering the gunwhale of your own boat never makes the ocean shallower. There is a place in the world for integrity, honor and character.


You know what they say about "Glass Houses" Chris B.... (see his previous unflattering comments yesterday on BYU's dismissal of Brandon Davies).

I am deeply saddened for ALL of the young men involved in both circustances. It places an uncomfortable spotlight on everyone involved... at Utah and BYU; and an unfortunate black eye on the state and it's athletes.

I truly do not believe that Utah is any different than any other state (even per capita), in this area. Nor do I believe that ANY of these kids are "BAD"--they simply made stupid mistakes that they should have the chance to correct and move on.

I will say that there is a huge, fundamental difference in how each University handles such issues though. Neither of them is right or wrong, just different, based upon the Motto, Structure and Purpose of each University.

I say, STOP THROWING ROCKS at each others Glass Houses, because you never know when one of them is going to ricochet back and hit you in the head!

West Jordan, UT

I think this is really sad. Why is it okay to drag these young men through the mud? Maybe SI's next investigation should be looking into sports writers and media members to see how many of them have made mistakes in their lives.

If the crimes are in the past, we are doing these young men a huge disservice by resurrecting it now. As long as they have paid their debt to society, let it go.

People are saying that there is a double standard in sports and that when athletes commit crimes people look the other way. It actually goes both ways. Take what is going on with BYU's star center. His name is being dragged through the media right now, while another student at BYU, who might be guilty of breaking the honor code, is not publicly embarrassed. Just because someone is an athlete or in the public eye, does not give us the right to debase them.

Layton, Utah

Pat Tillman had an incident during high school that was similar in that he could have lost his football scholarship. In his situation the sentence was such that it wasn't reported to Arizona State so he could keep his scholarship. If the judge didn't give him the opportunity for a second chance he would have never played in the NFL and never become the figure he was when he joined the military. Hopefully this kid makes the most of the second chance he has been given.


I thought this offered a little insight we didn't already have about the people involved in the incident and I am going to go read the article, sounds interesting.
My favorite part of the story is that everyone owned up to thier parts and didn't duck the questions, kudos to Coach Peck.
Whether or not it's fair that the scholarship is still intact, this is an interesting story that hopefully will have a happy ending.

Salt Lake City, UT

I think this is a very valid and pertinent issue for SI to investigate. It is obvious they did so with integrity, showing all sides of the issue and interviewing from many different angles. The article sounds well worth reading and discussing with family and friends. The bottom line is that College Sports programs, with their multi-million-dollar engines, are ripe for corruption. Good for SI to shine some light on a very dark corner. Hopefully, this story will encourage meaningful discussion and revised school and law enforcement policies which promote ethical behavior and high standards. It is up to Coaches, Parents, law enforcement and schools to stand up and take responsibility sending a loud and clear message to our youth: IF YOU COMMIT A CRIME, YOU HAVE TO SERVE THE TIME AND PAY THE PRICE. BAD ACTIONS = BAD CONSEQUENCES. That's real life. Allowing athletes with criminal records to be continually rewarded with a free pass for their bad behavior is unconscionable. SHAME on my Alma mater U of U! Coach Wittingham, you've let your fans down, and you've cheapened the game by signing this young man and any others like him.

So. Cal Reader
Escondido, CA

Maybe I'm alone, but I think this "ambitious journalism investigation" reveals little surprises. I actually think the ultimate percentages of student-athletes with criminal backgrounds is much lower than I anticipated. Also, so much effort to "get to the bottom" of the Fauonuku incident? Whatever. The only reason this report is getting attention is the "SI" connection to it. It uncovers very little!

Coach Biff
Lehi, UT

As a high school coach that competed against this young man, I must say it makes me sick. His remorse is turned off and on when the moment requires it. Before each game, Bingham does the Haka and when this young man would lead it the Haka included throat slashing gestures meant to intimidate and threaten. He should never have seen the field this year. I don't have that big of a problem with second chances but being rewarded with a scholarship at the U is beyond the pale. He should have had to sit for a year and see if he could behave himself before he ever entered school. So much for integrity. So much for my respect for the U.

South Jordan, UT

I live within the boundaries of Bingham High School, and while I'm sure that there are good kids on the football team, I have have had only bad experiences with football players. Vandalism, trespassing, and lack of respect seem to be the norm. It's about time that someone called them out on this. Not that there will be any consequences, though. This kid that held up the others by gunpoint and then threatened their lives if they reported it is laughing his way to a scholarship at Utah.

And to the person who said it's much worse in Texas and Florida -- do you have any first-hand experience with that? I have, and I can tell you that the kids in my former Texas town wouldn't have even thought about pulling garbage like this because they knew it would ruin their college careers. (College football, on the other hand, is another story.)

West Jordan, UT

@SLCMom: You are judging people you don't even know without having all of the facts. The world must seem pretty evil from your perfect perch, but as for me I am all for showing a bit of compassion and mercy. You never know when you are going to need some of it yourself.

Magic Happens
Kaysville, UT

OK! Enough already. I have received from the D'News, email alerts of "Breaking News" about this story 5 times in the past 2 hours. Yes it is an interesting look into college athletics and the errors/mistakes/criminal acts (pick your term)of a few of the athletes. But really, is it necessary for the editors of this paper to continue to publish as "breaking news"? It's as if the editors are relieved to have something to shift the focus away from a basketball player and his challenges. Hopefully all these young men are able to correct their past mistakes and move on to more productive lives. But is it new news? Probably not, and certainly not worthy of so many announcements. Were it a certain other school in this state it wouldn't receive so much attention. It's time to move on!

sid 6.7
Holladay, UT

Unbelievable a coach would allow his player to continue on with the season knowing he was guilty of a felony. I guess winning does mean everything at Bingham High. What little respect I had for Bingham and Peck is now gone.

Fauonuku knew what the repercussions were going to be when he committed this crime. With the discipline required to play football at that level he knew better.

With that being said, the law is the law and he was a juvenile at the time so he should be judged as a juvenile. Hopefully he has paid society for his crimes and made good. This though does not negate the fact that he should have lost his Senior year of Football and potentially lost the ability to get a Scholarship. It only goes to show athletes and Stars, if you will, live on a completely different plane from the common person in this society. You cant tell me that if it were a common 17 year old who committed this crime he would have received the same treatment.

Everyone deserves a second chance and I hope he is smart to take this one and run with it.

South Weber, UT

I am happy for SLC mom that no one in her family ever had a run in with the law or did something that was regrettable. Fortunately she has led a perfect life and has lived in a environment where no one in her family was held accountable for their actions as a youth under voting age. It is a good thing that there was never a need for forgiveness, reconciliation to individuals harmed, or to the society seeking accountability.
As for Whittingham ? It should be noted that he DID revoke a scholarship to a projected starter on his team for not following the standards of the athletic departments stand on disobedience to the laws of the land. This was done swiftly after the player had been given a chance to reform his rough and rowdy ways.

Pleasant Grove, UT

As someone who works in the criminal justice system, I think people might be surprised at the potential outcomes for a situation such as this. Based on past history I could easily see this action pled down to a Class B Misdemeanor with court administered probation, a series of actions and consequences classes, a decent fine, and suspended jail time. There was probably more required out of him by the Juvenile Court than a District Court.

Syracuse, UT

I believe that they should take away his scholarship and make him walk on if he wants to play football. If football is the only way he could go to college, then maybe the hard work of making the team would help in finding a job and working his way through like the majority of students. Let these kids get away with things like this and it is no wonder why they do poorly in school and then, if they do make it to the pros, they all act like stupid idiots.

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