It is one of the most important things we could ever possess in this crazy thing called life. When we own up to our mistake, we can take the necessary steps to prevent those mistakes from happening again going forward.
In the case of what’s recently happened with Gonzaga men’s basketball Head Coach Mark Few, accountability is nowhere to be found, or at the very least, it reaches the bare minimum (which isn’t that much better).
The current mastermind behind one of the best collegiate basketball programs in the nation has been suspended for three games after his Sept. 6 DUI citing just north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Few announced in a statement that he will be suspended for the team’s two exhibition games against Eastern Oregon and Lewis-Clark State, as well as the team’s first regular season game against Dixie State.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few says in a statement he will miss both of GU's exhibition games and the season opener against Dixie State on Nov. 9. He was cited for DUI last month— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) October 9, 2021
Few was also not in attendance for Numerica’s Kraziness in the Kennel on Saturday.
“I know this impacts our student-athletes and the coaching staff as we begin the season,” Few said in a statement the morning of Kraziness. “I understand the severity of my actions and am sorry for the impact this consequence has on our team. Thank you again to those who have supported me, my family, and our program throughout this process.”
GU Athletic Director Chris Standiford released his own statement on the matter, saying it was important to address the seriousness of Few’s actions as well as providing the necessary compassion and support for him.
With how much pull Few has in the GU and Spokane community, his standard should be higher than anyone else’s on campus. Even with this being the first blemish in his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career, being the highest-paid employee on campus and one of the highest paid employees in the state should hold a certain expectation as to how one should act.
And to be fair to Few, living up to those expectations and having that insurmountable pressure every day carries a toll. But Few shouldn’t be given a free pass for something many other people in that same situation have gotten in much bigger trouble for.
Few even said it himself that he needs to be held to a high standard.
“I believe as a leader and role model, I am expected to set only the best example,” Few said in a Sept. 7 statement following the incident. “The decisions I made [Monday] do not exemplify this standard and for that, I sincerely apologize to you all. I recognize that operating a motor vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol exhibits poor judgment.”
So, shouldn’t the punishment be equivalent to the expectations the community and Few have for himself?
The suspension comes to an end just in time for the Zags’ biggest game of the season — a potential top-5 matchup with the University of Texas in the Kennel. So, it makes sense, from a winning perspective, that you have your head coach back for the biggest game of the year.
But this isn’t about winning. Or rather, it shouldn’t be.
This is about setting an example to the community that you don’t condone Few’s actions in any way and that no one should drink and drive.
And let’s be honest here — do the Zags need Mark Few to beat Eastern Oregon, Lewis-Clark State or Dixie State? Probably not.
Yes, the university might be saying it is against these actions with this suspension, but with the first three games of the year being arguably the easiest on the schedule, why even suspend him in the first place against those teams?
As these three games are buy-games on the nonconference schedule, GU is providing compensation to these schools to come and play.
Here's another important detail about the scheduling. The 2021-22 Zags hoops schedule was announced 11 days after Few was cited for his DUI.
Although it is solely speculation, 11 days feels like enough time to find another team to play before Texas, and in theory, GU would offer more money than normal to that university just to get that team on the schedule. While we knew about the Lewis-Clark matchup and Dixie State matchup, fans found out about the Eastern Oregon game the day of the schedule release.
Here's one more thing to take note of. According to the GU athletics website, the Zags haven't had two preseason games since the 2005-06 season.
But again, this isn’t about money or winning, right?
Few not going to Kraziness tells you everything you need to know about this suspension. Having to wait four games until he shows his face to the GU public shows that the university cares more about Few than acting according to his actions.
Not being allowed to be present at the event where you present your team to the public, and for some, the only time they get to see the team, shows Few has other priorities than addressing the fan base about his actions.
This isn’t all on Few, either. Again, none of us live the life of Mark Few and understand what he has to go through every day as a top-tier college basketball coach.
Some of the blame should fall on the athletic department and the university for letting Few use his privilege to dictate his suspension. From what we’ve seen on social media, it seems apparent that Few had more say in his punishment than the athletic department.
The athletic department needed to step up and take responsibility for these serious actions, but it looks like they deferred to the easier option of letting Few make his decision on his suspension.
Standiford started his statement by saying, “Given Coach Few’s announcement,” which insinuates that Few had more say in his own suspension than the athletic department.
So, what should the suspension be?
Let’s look at the next five games after Dixie State. The Zags play Texas, Alcorn State and Bellarmine at home before playing two games in the Empire Classic against Central Michigan and UCLA.
Those games along with the three previous games would, at worst, put the Zags at a 6-2 record. And Few would be back just in time for its big matchup against Duke as well as the Battle for Seattle.
The suspension would be long enough where the Zags can still win enough games to contend for a top seed in the NCAA tournament and show that every member on the team should be held to the highest standard, especially the head coach.
Former Zag basketball player Josh Perkins was suspended for two games for his DUI when he was at GU. Although it is a different situation with Perkins being a student-athlete at the time, this shows even more that Few should be held to a higher standard, and there is no tolerance for drinking and driving under any situation.
And if it were anyone else other than Few, would the punishment be the same as his or would it be worse? Few’s situation could have been a lot worse. He was lucky that no physical harm came to him or anyone else.
I was at Kraziness on Saturday and noticed a couple of GU students to my right exclaim, “DUI,” at certain points of the game. Although this wasn’t a unified chant, hearing students mention this brings an understanding that Few will not be looked at the same as he has been in past years.
With that in mind, an eight-game suspension seems appropriate given the seriousness of the infraction. But whether it’s five, six, eight games or more, a three-game suspension makes it feel like the school doesn’t care about these harmful actions from one of its most important employees, leaving accountability at the front door of the GU men’s basketball program.