I normally don’t post about Harding football here. There’s typically not much reason to. The atmosphere at football games was not what it was for basketball when I was there, and I had trouble getting into it. The team also isn’t very good this year: their record is just 2-8 (1-6 GSC) because of a woeful defense that is allowing 38.6 points per game.
One of the bright spots on the team had been the play of quarterback David Knighton, who was an All-American in 2007 after throwing for over 3,000 yards with 32 touchdowns. His NFL prospects had perhaps been inflated by the pass-happy offensive style employed by coach Ronnie Huckeba and OC Tim Perry, but that doesn’t make the offense any less exciting. With the Bisons playing from behind in virtually every game, Knighton was averaging 56 pass attempts and 383 passing yards per game with an efficiency rating of just 125. That’s only impressive in terms of volume, but those gaudy numbers were bound to get him some draft consideration.
All of that may have changed now, as the Associated Press is reporting that Knighton has been suspended from the school for a code of conduct violation. The article reports Knighton’s father’s account of the incident, in which he says that his son allowed a female student to spend the night at his off-campus apartment, which violates the following clause in the student handbook:
“Staying overnight in a motel, hotel or any such arrangement with a member of the opposite gender will result in suspension, although explicit sexual immorality may not have been observed.”
Knighton’s father was quoted as saying, “They were judge, jury and God all in one.” The full article includes a few other quotes that express a similar sentiment. Knighton will be appealing the suspension.
Due to the star athlete status of the student in violation, this will probably bring unwelcome, but perhaps not undeserved, publicity to Harding’s very stringent student code of conduct, which can be found here (caution: PDF link).
Regardless of what actually happened (and I suppose nothing has been proven at this point), I think it’s worth pointing out because of the rule itself. It’s my personal opinion that some aspects of Harding’s rules need to enter the 21st century. Like the ASI lecture series, which turns its nose up at the idea of intellectual honesty, many of the current rules are ostensibly still on the books because of a segment of Harding alumni and parents who find it necessary to legislate and enforce their own narrow view of morality.
There are plenty of well-intentioned folks at Harding, even in the administration, but it’s my opinion that they allow too much parental control over a group of, let’s face it, full-fledged adult students. It’s time they realize how ludicrous it is to waste time enforcing a rule that doesn’t even require proof of any wrongdoing. It’s insulting to the students who abide by the Christian principles that the administration seeks to uphold.
Having said all of that, let me address Knighton’s ill-fated decision, assuming the facts of the report are correct. Knighton made a profoundly dumb move by actually letting the girl stay over, and his dad’s insinuation that it was out of concern for her safety is bogus, or misguided at best. There are parts of Searcy that are better than others, but as a whole it’s a pretty tame place to live. The idea that she would have been left out in the cold is pretty far out there, given the presence of campus security and many on-campus housing locations. Sure, she probably would have been in trouble if she went in after curfew, but those are consequences she ought to have dealt with anyway.
There’s one other point to consider in all of this: it’s pretty obvious that Harding didn’t weigh heavily Knighton’s status or the health of the football team, which is encouraging. There are too many programs (mostly bigger ones) where a football player who broke this kind of rule would have gone completely unpunished, and the university is to be commended for not perpetuating that particular double standard.
Those are my scatterbrained thoughts so far.