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Archive for February 8, 2018

Feb. 8, 2018 — For want of $34

Last Sunday’s arrest of Honda Award-winning field hockey player Charlotte Veitner of the University of Connecticut is perhaps the most stunning criminal case befalling a member of the American field hockey community in the last decade and a half. Veitner has been charged with sixth-degree larceny for taking $34 of makeup from a campus bookstore.

The shock does not come from the severity of the crime; God knows the coaches and administrators who have been put under arrest on morals charges the last few years have affected far more lives. The three Bloomsburg field hockey players who were convicted of beating up one of their schoolmates during Homecoming weekend in 2011 were more violent. And the Montclair State players who posted a lot of their antics during a drunken bender off-campus in 2013 may have been infinitely more stupid.

But Veitner is a star amongst stars, a player who parlayed her talent from an appearance on the German U-19 national team into a storied career at UConn which saw her become one of the all-time greats.

Here’s the thing to watch as the case moves into its next phase with a court appearance on Feb. 14. This situation is at the heart of a pair of hot-button issues in not only field hockey, but in the nation at large.

One issue is the willingness of a university to provide cover for members of its athletic program, whether it is Michigan State hiding many of Larry Nasser’s misdeeds, college football teams from Florida to California carrying guns or Duke men’s lacrosse hiring sex workers. How hard will the UConn athletics department work behind the scenes to gain a plea bargain, if not outright clemency?

The other issue is foreign nationals committing crimes in the United States. This week, President Trump doubled down on comments painting large groups of immigrants as criminals, a stance which is shaping the current debate on immigration and its role in American life.

What’s known is that an alien — legal or otherwise — who commits a crime is subject to deportation. But, an immigrant’s status should not be threatened if the crime was not a felony. Sixth-degree larceny in Connecticut is a Class C misdemeanor, and the charge can be expunged in exchange for restitution and community service.

Now, student-athletes are special kinds of immigrants. Students like Veitner generally attend university on an F-1 visa, which sunsets once the student finishes his or her course of study, or is deemed to be not making progress on the same.

We don’t know whether the status of the visa can be changed as a result of her arrest. But what we do know is that the finest collegiate field hockey player last year had a stupefying lack of judgment last weekend.

And got caught for it.

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