Conduct should affect Heisman hopefuls

Adam Vlach, adam.vlach@, is a senior English and mass media major.

Should voters take into account players’ character and conduct, on and off the field, when voting for the Heisman?

The Heisman Trophy is generally known as the award given out each year to the best player in college football. The Heisman Trust Mission Statement starts out, “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” Recently, however, the words “with integrity” were removed from this mission statement. Was this because:

Cam Newton (2010 winner) faced widely-publicized allegations and investigations that his family was asking for money from schools trying to recruit him.

Johnny Manziel (2012 winner) was suspended for breaking NCAA rules in allowing his name and likeness to be used for profit by outside parties.

Jameis Winston (2013 winner) was accused of sexual assault in 2013. He was not charged, but in 2014 he was suspended for an incident in which he yelled something sexually derogative toward women on campus.

Did the Heisman Trust remove “with integrity” from its mission statement because they did not think acts such these should affect who won that award – that it should be based solely on on-field performance? Some of these instances were never proven as fact and some were, but perhaps the Heisman Trust did not want to deal with any of it (waiting on pending investigations, etc.)

But then the Heisman Trust came out and said the removal of “with integrity” was done erroneously during the redesigning of its web page and has since added it back into the mission statement.

Whether or not the erasing of that phrase was erroneous or not is still debated and there doesn’t seem to be anything indicating an answer will be coming out anytime soon.

But there is another issue. The mission statement says “with integrity,” but the Trust does not define integrity. Does it mean sportsmanship? Does it mean performance as a student-athlete? Or to get very vague, does it refer to character? Or all of those?

Because different people would judge the same person differently for different reasons, a Heisman candidate should not be judged on merits, but on lack of negative behavior.

The Heisman should go to the best player. How nice of a person he is should not factor in. All that should factor in is, if there is any, negativity. While it’s not just to discount someone because of allegations or pending investigations, incidents such as Jameis Winston’s this year, which was just blatantly offensive, should (negatively) impact voters’ thoughts on him when deciding on the winner of the Heisman Trophy.