Published November 08. 2012 4:00AM
Hartford - OK. Quick story. Junior year of college. Out late one night at IHOP with the fellas. A police officer enters, removes his hat and leaves it unattended as he walks to the counter to order some food.
My friend John says to my friend Mike: "You should steal his hat."
So, of course, Mike did. Managed to get out the front door, too. But not much farther.
Later, when Mike was in jail, he told John, "nice idea," as John bailed him out.
A few weeks later, Mike was in court with no lawyer.
Judge: "You go to Boston College and you can't afford a lawyer?"
Mike: "It's BECAUSE I go to BC I can't afford a lawyer."
Judge laughs. Still hands out punishment. And we all lived happily ever after.
Moral No. 1: College kids do dumb things.
Moral No. 2: Mike's transgression never made the papers. That's because we were regular old college students, not on scholarship, not in the spotlight, not public figures, not bearing the responsibility of representing the school.
Let's try to remember all that when we examine Caroline Doty's recent boo-boo. UConn police issued Doty a ticket at 2:15 a.m. Nov. 1 for creating a public disturbance in a dormitory. She wasn't arrested. No alcohol was involved, according in the police report.
Doty did a dumb college kid thing. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sadly, though, I've read an alarming number of comments on various Internet sites questioning whether this story is newsworthy. Or that poor Caroline is being treated unfairly because she's an athlete. Sorry. Doty's plight is a cautionary tale for her teammates and other college athletes in big-time programs everywhere: You are de facto public figures. Somebody is always watching.
Agree? Irrelevant. Disagree? Irrelevant. As Cronkite used to say: That's the way it is.
Doty, her teammates and other student-athletes in, shall we say, revenue-producing programs should be held to different - and higher - standards than regular old college students. They bear a responsibility other college kids don't. They represent the university. Like the Good Book says: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
You may recall loyalists of the UConn men whining the same whine during the Marcus Williams laptop affair. Why should poor Marcus' punishment be more severe because he's an athlete?
Answer: Because he's an athlete. He wears the UConn jersey on national television. Part of the territory.
And a note to the dullards: Not trying to equate Doty's misdeed with Williams' thievery. Just saying they are subject to the same scrutiny.
Doty, for the record, said she was trick-or-treating. She went out as Lady Gaga.
I asked UConn coach Geno Auriemma after Wednesday's preseason game at the XL Center if he believes his players should be held to different and higher standards.
"If you're going to get your name in the paper for scoring 30 and get your picture on the front of Sports Illustrated for winning the national championship," Auriemma said, "you can't avoid the other stuff. Are they just like other students? Yeah. They go to class, they have to take tests and study. But in other ways, they're not. Unfortunately, they're held to a higher standard."
Much of the UConn women's fandom likes to portray Auriemma's players as just south of angelic. This just in: They're not. They're college kids.
"It's an exercise you go through every year," Auriemma said. "In 28 years here, we've had this happen if not once a year, it's every other year. Someone calls up and says there was a disturbance in the dorm. The R.A. saw 30 people in the room and told them 10 times to get out and they wouldn't leave. (I ask) 'Who was there?' They name some of my players. (I ask) 'Who were the other 35 people there?' (They say) 'I don't know, but your players were there.' That's part of the deal."
Doty's issue won't even be a postscript to what could be a very special season here. (Wait till you see Breanna Stewart). Maybe, though, some of you should change your thinking a little about what's news. College kids do dumb things. Some of them have to read about it in the paper.
"What comes with a scholarship?" Auriemma said. "For the next four years you can never be caught doing anything any other kid would do on a Friday night. If you get caught, you're in deep doo-doo. I don't think it says that. But it's implied. It's not a bad way to go through life early on."
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.