In column on Taylor’s death, Gutman made false claims

To the Editor:

Collin Gutman’s column, “The ‘U’ must be partly to blame for Taylor’s death” (11/29), contains a major error that warrants a correction.

Gutman insinuates that Sean Taylor was likely involved in some type of illegal activity leading up to his death. He states, “Why else wouldn’t Taylor have called the police when someone broke into his house and left a knife on his pillow a week ago?” This claim is factually inaccurate. A Miami Herald article from Nov. 27 explicitly mentions that Taylor had reported the prior incident, and that it was being investigated. The article, titled “Family grieves, cops seek clues in Taylor’s death,” states that, “The work had been submitted to Miami-Dade’s lab but had yet to be processed because residential burglaries usually don’t take priority. After Taylor’s death, however, the lab work will be done immediately, said Miami-Dade Detective Robert Williams, a spokesman.”

In addition, in Gutman’s attempt to criticize the University of Miami for its atmosphere that turns “warriors into thugs,” he omits some important facts.

Within the past two years, UM has taken significant steps to attempt to repair the image of its football program. Former head coach Larry Coker was fired after six seasons (in which he won 80% of his games, 3 conference titles, and an NCAA title), due largely to the negative press from incidents like the Florida International brawl, the recruitment of Willie Williams, and the 7th Floor Crew.

Current head coach Randy Shannon has made improving the team’s image a point of emphasis. For instance, Shannon removed player names from the back of jerseys, as a way of em≠phasizing team unity. Gutman should be pleased with this development, seeing as how he writes that, “[Miami] players now retain the ‘me first’ mentality without the winning tradition.”

In total, Gutman’s piece was sloppily researched, and a very disappointing attempt to address the issues surrounding Taylor’s death.

Joe Kopchick

Nov. 29

Kopchick is a 2006 graduate of Yale College.


  • Anonymous

    You know, all this talk about the bad press Miami gets for being Thug U or being at fault for the death of prominent athletes has got me to finally recognize the "Monster" in the room that UMiami can use to its advantage.

    The underlying problem here (that has been talked about in this blog) is the gross neglect by society of America's impoverished communities. In order to combat this neglect, America needs to focus on this issue and act. It is only during times of crisis (see Hurricane Katrina) does America's attention focus on these communities. And it is only during these times that attempts to remedy this problem are made.

    Although Sean Taylor's crisis has directed attention to some of the so called bad areas of Miami, the only action that has resulted has been finger-pointing towards the University of Miami and its football program. A sophomore at Yale wrote in the Yale Daily News yesterday that Miami's "environment" encourages such behavior and should therefore be partly to blame for Taylor's death. It is irresponsible journalism like this that makes you wonder whether Americans are truly interested in finding solutions or are only interested in perpetuating problems.

    Impoverished communities remain neglected by America's governance, yet the media is only concerned with shattering the image of the University of Miami because we have a good football team which, historically, has been comprised of players from these exact communities.

    Miami football doesn't present a problem, it presents a possible solution to this underlying problem of urban neglect. The fact that our football program relies on home-grown talent from nearby communities goes against the Conventional grain of thought that good talent should be cherry-picked from other regions of the nation.

    Miami awards scholarships to players from Miami, and our roster is riddled with players who don't have to leave their neighborhood communities behind. The Canes, as a result of this, have become a community relic and provide unity and pride for all of Miami, including the impoverished communities.

    So in many ways, what the nation sees as a flaw, we should see as a good. The U gives several kids the opportunity to be proud for who they are and where they come from.

  • Anonymous

    Good letter in response to an appalling article.

    I disagree, however, that Coker was fired solely for off-field issues.

    There was a consistent decline in on-field performance, some of which can be attributed to the laid-back Coker losing control of the team. The FIU brawl was part of this.

    But Coker generally ran a clean program and Miami graduates most of its players, including academic all-Americans such as Jon Vilma and Matt Walters in the past few years.