We were driving down Hempstead Turnpike last night, me at the wheel and my wife in the back seat with our daughter, who was none too happy after two hours in the Babies ‘R Us photo studio. (Things they never tell you during childbirth class: Newborns HATE being propped up for posed photos) We were trying to figure out what to pick up for dinner as we crawled along in the usual Friday night bumper-to-bumper traffic, but for a few traffic lights all we did was ask each other the question over and over again with neither one of us actually making a suggestion.
“I think we just have a Hofstra pallor,” my wife said.
At this point, I think it’s our default setting.
The Flying Dutch faithful endured its latest worst, most embarrassing day ever yesterday, when news broke that four players—Shaq Stokes, Jimmy Hall, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin—had been arrested Thursday for executing a spate of burglaries on the Hofstra campus. According to news reports, the quartet stole more than $20,000 in Apple products. As of late last night, Stokes (five counts of burglary), Hall (four counts) and Washington (two counts) remain jailed while Anglin (one count each of burglary and tampering with evidence) is out on bail.
It was pretty awful to wake up to that news, but the day just got worse as it dragged on. In the mid-afternoon, Nassau County police said Mo Cassara had been burglarized by the four accused players, though Hofstra later issued a statement that Cassara reported items missing in the spring, long before the arrestees arrived on campus.
Around dinner time, we officially cemented our 15 seconds of short attention span fame by landing on Deadspin, which picked up on the New York Post’s salacious report and added its usual unique brand of snarky sports commentary. Hooray us.
The day unleashed a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts that are difficult to organize into anything resembling coherence. But here goes.
First I was humbled. I’ve had a lot of fun mocking George Mason and its fans for the trouble that Patriots players have gotten into over the last few years. Nothing any of those guys did compares to the knuckleheadness of the acts the Hofstra quartet is accused of perpetuating. When you taunt fans of other schools who have no control over how the players on their favorite team behave, you’ve got no choice but to absorb the slings and arrows when the laundry you root for lets you down.
I was—am—furious with the four accused players and the shame they’ve brought to our university. Beneath my ever-present cynicism, and behind my penchant for disagreeing with the administration, lies an unconditional love for Hofstra. It has been the epicenter of my universe for 19 years and has given me so much. Without Hofstra, I would not have my wonderful wife, our beautiful daughter, the hundreds of friends and acquaintances I have made and the innumerable memories they’ve all helped create.
I take, pun intended, pride in the school, and to see it wounded like this destroys me. All caveats about letting the judicial system play out apply, but if the four players are found guilty of the charges levied against them, I hope they never step foot on campus again. We’ve all been foolish 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds doing things that make us cringe 18, 19 and 20 years later. But even accounting for the absent foresight of youth, there are some discretions that cannot be scrubbed away by time.
Speaking of scrubbed away, the names of the accused have already been deleted from the roster at GoHofstra.com, so my suspicion is we’ve seen the last of them, in any capacity, at Hofstra.
I am heartbroken for the people dealing with the fallout from the actions of the foolish foursome. Staffers at Hofstra were feeling the same emotions as the rest of us Friday, except with a rawer and more immediate intensity. I suspect they, and we, will feel the reverberations of yesterday’s news for months and years to come, in ways we cannot imagine yet.
I feel terrible for the players who did nothing wrong, yet will be the ones forced to answer for their ex-teammates and to field the insults from fans in CAA arenas up and down the east coast this winter as they try and pick up the pieces of a shattered season.
I hope this season turns out to be a Hollywood special, though the numbers suggest reality will be cruel. I hope that Hofstra fans can look past their fury with the accused and show up at the Arena today and Tuesday night and support David Imes, Stevie Mejia, Matt Grogan, Moussa Kone, Taran Buie and Jordan Allen (and Stephen Nwaukoni and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, if they’re playing).
I feel terribly for the coaching staff, which recruited these four players, offered them scholarships—and in Stokes’ case, spent months fighting on his behalf to get him a hardship waiver so that he could play this year—and basically entrusted them with coaching careers that quite frankly seem imperiled at the moment.
I feel particularly bad for Cassara, who has been a great ambassador for the university as he invests immeasurable time and energy into rebuilding this program. I’ve spoken to him first thing in the morning, after a sleepless night, and run into him in the middle of the day, when he’s yet to put a single piece of food into his mouth, and seen him at the end of an 18-hour work day as he heads home for another mostly sleepless night.
While Cassara has taken chances with players with baggage, he has always struck me as a man who values character, someone who would rather go 16-16 than try and win at all costs. He moved on quickly from Bryant Crowder last year and suspended Buie and Coombs-McDaniel for the first two regular season games of this season. I find it difficult to believe he ever envisioned something like this happening with his first real recruiting class, and imagine his nights will remain mostly sleepless for some time to come.
Mostly, I’m just numb, and wondering if these body blows to Hofstra athletics and its small but loyal fanbase will ever cease. I had, of all things, the Anthrax “Behind The Music” on as background noise Friday morning when one line from band founder Scott Ian jarred me from my stupor:
“How could we have such bad luck? Really, how is this possible?”
For my purposes, I am going to just assume he broke the fourth wall and was talking directly to me. How can we have such bad luck? Three days shy of the three-year anniversary of the demise of football and we’re still getting regularly buckled by bad luck and bad news, most of which is delivered after we’ve been lulled into thinking our fortunes have finally turned.
Two weeks ago this morning we were reveling in the joys of an upset of an NCAA Tournament-caliber team, experiences we would replicate within 48 hours. The Dutchmen were deep and talented and young. Better days were here, until they weren’t. Old story, new cast of characters. Rinse, wash, repeat.
“How could we have such bad luck? Really, how is this possible?”
Really, how could we think this time would be any different?