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Why an athlete's arrest led Badgers AD Chris McIntosh to request a review of UW's disciplinary process

Why an athlete's arrest led Badgers AD Chris McIntosh to request a review of UW's disciplinary process

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A University of Wisconsin football player’s citation last month for operating under the influence didn’t automatically trigger a suspension under the athletic department’s policies.

Chris McIntosh


Athletic director Chris McIntosh wants to take another look at that approach.

McIntosh has asked the UW Athletic Board and UW-Madison’s Office of Legal Affairs to review whether drunken driving offenses should be covered explicitly in the 18-year-old Student-Athlete Discipline Policy.

He said the Oct. 17 citation of UW offensive guard Josh Seltzner for operating under the influence “potentially highlights a gap in the policy.”

The document doesn’t specifically reference alcohol-related offenses. It applies when a Badgers athlete is charged with or arrested for certain crimes and immediately places the individual under suspension from games and practices pending an investigation.

A broad interpretation of the policy could include OWI cases under crimes that create “a serious danger to the personal safety of another person.” But first-offense OWI in Wisconsin is generally a traffic offense and not a criminal one.

Seltzner registered a blood-alcohol concentration between 0.08% and 0.15% after a traffic stop, according to Dane County Circuit Court documents. He entered a not guilty plea last Friday and has a Dec. 10 pretrial conference.

Seltzner played in the Badgers’ game at Purdue six days after the Oct. 17 citation, which UW officials were made aware of the same day, according to a spokesperson.

McIntosh said he was confident that Badgers coach Paul Chryst handled the situation appropriately and didn’t overlook the severity.

“But I’ve got reservations as to whether or not that’s the right approach,” McIntosh said. “I think there’s a better, more centralized approach that could be pursued.”

When UW unveiled the discipline policy in 2003 to remove coaches from the process of determining punishments for serious offenses, it left alcohol-related infractions out of the scope. Those incidents were left up to individual coaches to weigh unless the offense fell under another aspect of the policy.

The policy has been revised over the last 18 years but never to address drunken driving. McIntosh said he wasn’t aware of any other OWI cases with UW athletes in recent years.

UW athletics officials consulted with the Office of Legal Affairs on whether Seltzner’s infraction fell under the Student-Athlete Discipline Policy. The response, McIntosh said, was that it didn’t.

Ohio State suspended backup quarterback Jack Miller III indefinitely last week after he was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

That comparison didn’t factor into the decision to review UW’s policy, McIntosh said.

“I’m sensitive to the tragic loss that has been incurred because of operating while intoxicated,” he said. “We’ve had tragedy in our own community recently and there are stories nationally.”

A Madison man faces three counts of homicide by drunken driving for an Oct. 3 crash in the town of Middleton that killed three high school seniors.

“It’s a serious problem that we have been fortunate at the athletic department in that we haven’t had to deal with it for many, many years,” McIntosh said. “This case highlights an opportunity for us to determine what a better approach might be.”


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