Bjork: Focus is on the program and young people

Since arriving on campus in the spring of 2012 Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork has talked about running a department that focuses on student-athletes first.

Bjork touches on that in this excerpt from a story I’m working on for Friday’s Daily Journal. Here he responds to the question of criticism the administration has received for allowing Marshall Henderson to remain a part of the basketball program.

“We make decisions based on what is best for us, our institution and our programs, and that’s always using the student-athletes first. I don’t have a problem defending the fact that we are helping a young man through a difficult process. I am confident in the conversations we had relative to basketball and how those were treated with the highest integrity related to whether he would play again or not. Our focus is on what’s best for our program and what’s best for the young people in our program. That’s the decision process that we used.”

We also talked about what the school is doing to help Henderson beyond simply allowing him to remain in the program.

Bjork would not give specifics there but said other steps are being taken.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

Posted in Basketball
  • Stankylegs

    The absence of standard. Three games for riding around Oxford with weed and coke, and, more than likely, being high while driving. I wonder if Henderson would have been booted if he was a role player. Or, if he’d actually been arrested, had a mugshot hit the web and had to go to court. Oxford PD did OM a big favor by letting him skate when they should have given him the speeding ticket he was originally pulled over for, possession of marijuana and cocaine (he told the cops he had weed, but they had to call the dogs to find the coke. So how “honest” was he with Oxford PD?), and should have been taken in on suspicion of DUI. That “too small amount to prosecute” is BS. People get arrested for shake in the bottom of a bag, having a pipe with resin in it, etc. Oxford PD, with the help of that traffic report coming to light, have essentially given every student a green light to ride around with drugs in the car, so long as the amount is under the prosecutable limit and they “cooperate” with the police. They’ll always be able to point to the numerous newspaper articles for proof.
    Parrish, for a more analytical blog post, how about you compare the past drug offenses of former players, both at OM and other SEC schools, to see how Henderson’s treatment stacks up against others. That way, we’d know if Henderson is getting off easy.

    • Killer_Beeze

      You have way too much time on your hands Stinkylegs.
      I would think ending “global warming” (Owl Gore scam) would be a bigger priority.
      You want to ‘boot’ every kid who has smoked pot, then you wouldn’t have enough kids to make up a roster.
      The school is doing the correct thing with Marshall: more/frequent urine testing for drugs.

      • Stankylegs

        Did I say OM should boot Henderson? No. Did I suggest that his punishment, given his history and the nature of the traffic stop, could pale in comparison to how other SEC schools handle similar situations? Yes. That’s why I suggested Parrish do a story with that angle.
        If OM was really “doing the right thing”, those “frequent” drug tests would have already been in place. No one is naive enough to think college athletes don’t smoke pot. But, as a coach, wouldn’t you want to know if your star guard does cocaine? That’s an entirely different ball game. But for you to not even acknowledge the fact the kid does cocaine shows YOU don’t care about the kid.
        Answer this: if Henderson were a role player, would he have received a stiffer punishment?
        Maybe you’re too much of a fan to think about the situation objectively. Maybe you’re too much of a fan to wonder why the program has and continues to enable a kid’s buckwild behavior.

        • Mike

          What Henderson did before he got to Ole Miss should not be held against him. We all have pasts. Would you want someone who just met you holding what you did someplace else against you? I would guess not. I think Henderson came to Ole Miss for a fresh start. That means clean slate at Ole Miss. Whatever the rules are that the university holds their students to is the standard. And I know universities are different. We don’t know how many drug tests he has failed or what is going on behind the scenes. What we know is that he was pulled over for a traffic violation and some pot or cocaine residue was found in some bags in his car. At least, that’s the way I understand it. Is it a black eye for the university and Henderson… I would say so. Is it worthy of jail time? The authorities didn’t think so. Is it worthy of being kicked off the team? The university didn’t think so. Was it worthy of being on probabtion and a tighter leash? The university does think so. Time will tell what happens, but if the kid really has a drug problem and can be helped… Then why not help him before he ruins his life.

          • Stankylegs

            A rationale response. You make fair points about his past transgressions, but his failed drug tests prior to Ole Miss are the most important red flags. He’d tested positive for cocaine prior to getting to Oxford. There’s a pattern, and it’s drug use. Helping a kid through drug addiction, particularly cocaine, should include removing him from the court until you’re 100 percent certain he’s clean. Forget image of Henderson and Ole Miss, and wins and losses, cocaine use can kill a kid.

          • Mike

            I agree about the red flags, but all you can do is take their word and references from coaches and family members and give them the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to trust them. I don’t know if passing a drug test was a pre-requisite to join Ole Miss or not. Kind of hard to say you can have a fresh start kid, but first… Alcohol can kill a kid too! All that mess has consequences and can be dangerous, but I get your point about it being a “harsher” drug. All this happened back in the summer. I don’t know if he had to go to rehab, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Being suspended indefinitely and having something to work towards to regain his spot on the team, I have no problem with it. If he doesn’t have a goal or a “reason” to work on himself, he may just give up. I’m sure the university and his family have his best interests in mind and have a plan to help him. We’ll see if Henderson finally wakes up. I realize kids think they are invincible and nothing can hurt them. I just hope he finally figures out that messing with that stuff doesn’t lead to anywhere good. I also hope he is able to truly get control of it and have a bright future. Whether he is playing basketball or not.

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