Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Student athletes’ reputations reflect on university

Most would agree that a university’s best-known students are its athletes. From traveling to other universities for sporting events to being reported on in the media, student athletes are constantly in the public eye.

Their reputations directly reflect upon the organization they associate themselves with.

Because of this, student athletes must hold themselves to a higher level of accountability than other students. More than other students, they need to be constantly aware of how they conductthemselves and avoid behavior that would reflect negatively on our university and its athletic department.

When prospective student athletes visit UW-Whitewater, the William’s Center is without question the first stop on their tour.

Entering the front doors of the William’s Center, these soon-to-be athletes are greeted by purple banners hanging from the ceiling, which display outstanding athletes from seasons past.

Every athlete featured reached a point in his/her collegiate athletic career where they became a symbol of what UW-Whitewater represents.

Almost every standout athlete, both collegiate and professional, is looked up to as they sit on a metaphorical pedestal of greatness. Yet with one slip-up they can begin to tumble, taking their own image and that of the organization they play for with them.

Levell Coppage, the star running back for the Warhawk Football team from 2008 to 2011, holds the UW-Whitewater and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record for career yards rushed with 7,795 yards in his four season career.

Coppage was also named Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 by in addition to being named first team All-American the last three years of his collegiate career.

In October 2012, after finishing his last season as a Warhawk athlete, Coppage was arrested and charged with four felony counts of manufacturing/selling marijuana, one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana and one misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

After a blemish like that, all of his past accomplishments now seem to fall by the wayside, a little less important. His banner, which hangs among the banners of other talented UW-Whitewater athletes, now holds a negative connotation to many, the very opposite of its intended purpose.

Coppage has not yet stood trial or been convicted, but because of his success on the football team, his case is better known than other drug busts Whitewater has seen.

Coppage’s reputation, as is every successful athlete’s, is directly associated with the program he was a part of. As a parent takes responsibility for a child’s actions, an athletic department must respond to situations like this, which Warhawk athletics has done dutifully.

As a university with a pretty impressive athletic record, our athletes are some of the best ambassadors to our school. Last school year alone, our football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball and gymnastics teams all won national titles.

Our athletes are the faces of UW-Whitewater when attending events at other universities. Their names are printed in newspapers and spoken on television with our school’s name closely following.

They are treated as pacemakers of tradition and success to prospective students and used to recruit other outstanding athletes to our school.

While their first priority is to be a student and an athlete, being a role model for other students and community members is a must when associated with the Warhawk Athletic Program. Part of the program’s strategic plan states that it strives “to build on UW-W’s reputation as an institution of lasting integrity, which is actively and visibly demonstrated through the words and deeds of faculty, staff, and students.” Upholding a lasting integrity has a lot to do with the actions demonstrated by the university’s athletes.

Children who take lessons in the Williams Center see the banners and trophies honoring our best athletes, and they might aspire to be just like them one day. Those banners need to represent not only successful athletic careers, but athletes who define what Warhawk Athletic’s is all about.

All students should hold themselves to a high standard of behavior, but those in the public eye especially need to. The actions of our university’s student athletes reflect upon us all.

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Founded 1901
Student athletes’ reputations reflect on university