Desi Green: the Article, the Backlash, and the Facts
On Wednesday, The Spectrum published an article entitled "Desi Green Ousted on the Brink of History," which detailed the removal of one of Buffalo's greatest all-time athletes from the wrestling team. This piece has proven to be one of the newspaper's most controversial articles of the year, and because this story came from the sports desk, I've been besieged with questions, comments, etc.
People genuinely care and want to know the truth. That's why I'm here.
Wrestling head coach Jim Beichner cares. That's why he came into the office of The Spectrum on Thursday.
In a conference room at 12:30 p.m., three members of the wrestling program and three Spectrum editors sat and had a discussion about the article.
We stand by the story as it accurately reflects the information we had at the time. However, we now know we made one mistake.
In the fourth paragraph of the article, there is a sentence that reads: "The athletic department said he had failed numerous mandatory student-athlete drug tests." In fact, this information came from Green, rather than athletics. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws prevent the athletic department from giving out health information about individual athletes. Rather, the athletic department said Green "was dismissed from the team due to multiple violations of team and university policies."
Basically, those in the department didn't have the right to release the results of Green's drug tests, so they didn't.
Next, there's a section pertaining to Beichner, Green's former head coach. The article stated: "Beichner, however, does not reciprocate. He refused to comment on Green's case as he felt he had nothing positive to say." That was the information we were given at the time, following numerous phone calls to the athletic department. On Thursday, Beichner told us he had many positive things to say about Desi.
"I care about Desi Green and I like Desi," Beichner said. "I've done everything I possibly could to help him and his daughter in the past four years. I wish him nothing but the best moving forward."
Beichner sacrificed and strived to give Green a future, and he was devastated that Green couldn't finish his career at UB.
Several unnamed sources within the athletic department have given me insight. They're not allowed to go on the record, but they have granted me the inside scoop. Here it is:
Desi was given numerous chances. UB obviously wanted to keep him around. He was one of the best athletes in school history. But when it comes down to it, the university could get in major trouble with the NCAA if it didn't kick Desi off the team. He broke the team's rules. That's that.
Beichner truly took Desi under his wing. He did everything in his power to give Desi a prolific career, and then he did everything he could to keep Desi around. But when Green continued to break the rules, there was nothing Beichner could do.
The choice was Desi's. He could have chosen to stop smoking and continue wrestling but he didn't. I am not – and The Spectrum is not – here to say whether that decision was right or wrong. We're just here to give you the facts.
Desi is an amazing athlete, but his UB wrestling career is over. Would it have been great to see him continue making history and dominating opponents this year? Of course. The university thought so, too. UB and Jim Beichner wanted Desi around as much as anyone.
The school made the right decision.
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