News reports today informed us that University of Richmond football coach Latrell Scott resigned after being arrested early this morning for a DUI outside Richmond, reportedly his second in the past 5-10 years. It is natural, I think, for us to think that he did the right thing in resigning, that a football coach at a major university should set a better example for his players, or that someone in the public eye should not put himself (or herself) in such a situation--all defensible positions.
Another thought hit me, however, understanding that I do not know Coach Scott or all of the details of this incident. A second DUI raises a major red flag for the possibility of a substance use disorder (abuse or dependence). What would the reaction have been if Coach Scott had immediately requested a leave of absence to seek treatment for this problem? Would he have been permitted to step aside for a period of time while attending an inpatient or residential treatment program--or given the time he might need to go to outpatient treatment?
Yes, it is about setting an example--but I am not sure that stepping down was the right example to set.
How about this: "Coach Scott announced today that he was seeking an evaluation of issues relating to his use of substances, and that he would follow the recommendations produced by this evaluation. In his absence, his associate head coach will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the team. Coach Scott indicated that he is committed to receiving the help that he needs and that he looks forward to returning to the team at the appropriate time." Could this have been an alternative ending--or beginning--to the story?
Would we not have done that if he had previously had cancer and his cancer returned? Was not Pat Summitt applauded for her courage in adddressing her early onset dementia--and for contining to coach?
It just seems to me that even though we give lip service to the idea of the disease concept of addiction, when we are presented with opportunities to really operationalize this, as Coach Scott's situation may have offered, we respond with the same old moral model response, in this case resignation (or the termination that may have resulted any way) rather than assessment or treatment. Your thoughts?