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Love death not U.Va.’s fault

 WHEN something tragic happens, Americans have a tendency to want to blame everybody.

A prime example is the case of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love, who was beaten to death by her boyfriend, George Huguely V, also a Virginia student.

Both were lacrosse players.

Earlier this year, Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder for the 2010 slaying and that should have been that, right?

Wrong. According to published reports, Love’s mother has filed a $29 million wrongful death lawsuit against the commonwealth of Virginia, Huguely’s lacrosse coaches and U.Va.’s athletic director.

The suit apparently contends that if Huguely had been thrown off the U.Va.  lacrosse team after earlier episodes of violence brought on by alcohol consumption, Love’s death would never have happened.

The question here becomes: How much responsibility does an athletic coach bear when it comes to the personal lives of his players?

Further, how much responsibility does the commonwealth of Virginia—that’s you and me—bear for the personal lives of athletic participants on scholarship at state institutions?

While both Love and Huguely were U.Va. athletes, they did not play on the same team or against each other. That takes lacrosse out of the equation in my book.

The two had a personal relationship that had nothing to do with athletics. They just shared a common interest in lacrosse.

Should athletic coaches get involved in a player’s love life? Should they dictate who a player might or might not date? Well, I’m sure they would get sued and fired if they tried.

Should you and I, as citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia, dictate the personal relationships of athletes on scholarship at state schools? We would get sued—and maybe arrested—if we tried.

The truth is that both Love and Huguely were adults in a personal relationship that ended tragically. If Love’s family recognized tragedy coming, why didn’t they do something to prevent it?

The sad fact is that they probably didn’t act because, like Huguely’s coaches, U.Va.’s athletic director and the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia, they had no idea the relationship would end so tragically.

 Love and Huguely were adults and were treated as such when they entered college. In fact, the law prohibits parents—who are usually footing the tuition bill—from even seeing the grades of their adult children in college (unless the children show them).

Coaches have only so much responsibility or control over players who are over 18 years old. They can’t be with them 24 hours a day and direct every aspect of their lives.

Huguely could have been thrown off the men’s lacrosse team for some of his earlier actions, but is that any guarantee that the story wouldn’t have had the same tragic ending?

We saw this “blame game” 26 years ago when Maryland basketball star Len Bias died of a cocaine-induced heart attack while celebrating being drafted by the Boston Celtics.

Even though he had nothing to do with the incident, Maryland basketball coach Lefty Driesell was blamed and ended up resigning. The school’s athletic director left, too.

There is no evidence that any coach, athletic director or citizen of Virginia told George Huguely to get drunk and go attack Yeardley Love. The young man, who had reached his majority, did both on his own and was convicted for his crime.

The responsibility lies with one person. And he is now in jail.

Blaming everyone else will not undo what is most certainly a horrible tragedy.

Donnie Johnston: