BY Todd Dybas 01:22PM 05/11/2011

Dybas: Details in Overton case matter

Distasteful as are some details in the Seattle police report, knowing what went on that night with Venoy Overton, which clouded a promising UW basketball season, flashes a bright warning light on college sports.

Washington guard Venoy Overton said having his reputation sullied was a grand punishment. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Cringe-causing details were poured out Tuesday, continuing the fallout from Venoy Overton’s midseason misdeeds.

Most consternation from Overton’s sordid Saturday night his past January had dissolved. When Seattle Weekly published an article Tuesday detailing specifics from the 227-page police report, there was blowback. A chunk of it toward Seattle Weekly for publicizing the document.

It’s uncomfortable to read through the details in the document. Who did what to whom, especially with such a young woman involved, makes appealing a post-read run to the shower.

But it matters.

Illustrating how Overton was pursued the way athletes so often are matters.

Showing Overton’s numerous errors in judgment matters.

Understanding how media can be worked to present a partial case, and how difficult it is to pull back that initial line of thinking, matters.

Understanding the details in order to assess the punishment matters.

The ordeal is a punch-to-the-face reminder that sports are played by humans. No matter how much sabermetricians and other self-appointed experts, who can rewind their DVRs to claim knowledge, try to convince us otherwise.

These off-field controversies come right back to the premise of sports, particularly in college. Participants are supposed to learn something.

Details in the report that Overton was drinking and smoking fake weed in the middle of the season, showed he had not learned. Rather he was riding with a spoiled athlete’s sense of entitlement.

Head coach Lorenzo Romar said during this fiasco this was his toughest season at the helm in Washington. Knowing more of what happened, though not what was specifically told to Romar and when, allows better assessment of how he runs his program, even if the details are tawdry. Between this and the recent disclosure about UW recruit Tony Wroten and his dubious remedial Spanish class at Garfield High School, the sheen of the program has dulled.

Morality plays like this illustrate the foolishness of youth and the fame that comes with being a star athlete so young. Would Overton ever been in this public position otherwise?

This is a team  sports issue because off-court distractions trickle right into outcomes. After Seattle police confirmed they were investigating an unnamed Washington player, the Huskies lost the next game 58-56 against a mediocre Stanford team in Palo Alto.

Overton started that game and played terribly. The previous morning he made his extended statement to police explaining his side of what happened.

By the end of the month, attendance at weekly press conferences were swelled by media members who would never otherwise be there. Each week, one reporter would try to lead Romar into answering a question about the investigation. After the reporter didn’t receive the sound bite he hoped for, he played with his phone the rest of the media session.

Players talked to each other about the investigation. Because of the exposure and conundrum for Romar of exposing an unnamed player under investigation, it tainted the team.

By the end of January, the team in was a three-game losing streak, including its biggest defeat of the year, an inexplicable 12-point defeat at Oregon State. But now we have the explanation. Abdul Gaddy’s injury and Overton’s insolence conspired to place Romar’s deepest Washington team chest-high in the muck.

Those bumps added up. That’s why Washington dropped in the NCAA tourney seedings and ended up playing in the second round the menacing Tar Heels in their home state of North Carolina. Reflecting on this team that lost 11 games by a total of 55 points will grind the mind. The Huskies were filled with talent. This debacle, more thoroughly explained Tuesday, wore down the coach and distracted the team.

Trust, judgment, belief, mores. These are all things that sport test, intangibles that are supposed to be enhanced by competition and the benefits of so-called amateur athleticism.

This is another reminder that the system of athletic entitlement hasn’t changed. Just as with the rest of life, sports are populated by the gifted and misguided, the smart and smarmy. All are part of the story that needs telling.

What do Overton’s off-the-court misdeeds have to do with sports? Everything.

This is life, not Pong.

Follow Todd on Twitter at @Todd_Dybas


YourThoughts

  • Tom

    “Head coach Lorenzo Romar said during this fiasco this was his toughest
    season at the helm in Washington. Knowing more of what happened, though
    not what was specifically told to Romar and when, allows better
    assessment of how he runs his program, even if the details are tawdry.
    Between this and the recent disclosure about
    UW recruit Tony Wroten and his dubious remedial Spanish class at Garfield High School
    , the sheen of the program has dulled.

    Could not disagree with this paragraph more. How exactly is this a reflection on Lorenzo Romar, and how should he have handled the situation differently? This isn’t a sense of entitlement issue, it’s a stupidity of youth issue. Overton showed poor judgement and put himself in a bad situation, as many people his age do, athletes and non-athletes alike. Unfortunately, because of his fame his reputation will always be tainted because of this.

  • Kori

    Exactly as Tom said.  This story is actually quite typical of the age group.  It just doesn’t usually go out in the media for all to see.  The reality is that what happened that night should not have been anyones’ business, but the girl made the false accusation and the family went to the media.  If he wasn’t a star athlete, no one would know about it, which is how it should be.