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November 08, 2006

Writer slimes UM over Pata

     It didn't take long.

     I mentioned in today's column on the  Bryan Pata tragedy that some writers and commentators would kneejerk and lazily lump this with previous UM football controversies, placing it neatly in line right after the FIU brawl.

     Sure enough, on MSNBC.com today, a person named Michael Celizic opines under the headline, "In wake of killing, 'Canes should not go to bowl game." Celizic is a New York-based freelance writer, which means he can't find steady work. Find his commentary here.

     I don't agree UM should eliminate itself from a bowl, or not play Saturday's game at Maryland in the wake of this tragedy. But it isn't that opinion that bothers me about Celizic's piece -- it is the implication that Pata being killed is somehow the fault of the UM football program. There is even a suggestion Pata somehow was to blame, as the story ends with an admonishment that Miami needs to ask itself, "How is this young many going to represent our school?" when recruiting athletes.

     Dear Mr. Celizic: Bryan Pata represented his school and himself exceptionally well, by all accounts. It's fine that you urge UM president Donna Shalala to fully investigate the football program "including asking why it exists at all," as you wrote. But to vaguely suggest that Pata's murder is just the latest example of a program run amok is an irresponsible shame.

     A young man's grieving family and team deserve better.

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