CONWAY — Students at Coastal Carolina University are, like those reading this, not of a single mind about reports that the school's basketball team is under investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
There is some teeth gnashing, there is some judgment. But there is also somewithholding of opinion to see what comes of the investigation. "It's tragic," said Elise Weisengoff, a sophomore communications major from Bel Air, Md. "Ohhh, it hurts. It hurts."
Weisengoff is a clarinet player in the school's pep band. She's been to the games and was looking forward to a trip to the NCAA regionals, which still could happen. She hopes the allegations aren't true, she said, but if they are, there should be punishment.
"It seems like [basketball coach Cliff Ellis] has done this kind of thing before," Weisengoff said of what she understands about the charges.
"It seems if he'd done this before, he would know better."
The responses come in the wake of reports that an associate director for NCAA enforcement has been in Conway looking into whether CCU leading scorer Desmond Holloway received impermissible benefits.
"Allegations were brought to the university's attention in late summer of 2010," said a statement released Friday by CCU spokeswoman Martha Hunn.
Weisengoff and friend Lindsey Springer, also of Bel Air, Md., say the enthusiasm at games is palpable with a winning program. Springer, a member of the school's SCREAM (Student Community Recreating Excitement/Enthusiasm at Athletic Events) team, said enthusiasm flows more easily if the program is winning as the basketball team is under Ellis' tutelage.
Desmond Wallace, parliamentarian for the student government association, said he was surprised that the story ran in The New York Times and, in his mind, that adds some seriousness to the situation.
"It definitely puts a different light on the investigation because now you have a major newspaper looking into them," he said.
It makes him ready to be less surprised if the allegations are true, but it doesn't change his opinion of the university. For now, he's reserving his judgment
"Let the investigation run its course," said Wallace, a junior political science and history major from Myrtle Beach, "and whatever happens, happens."
Chris Draewell, a senior history major from Columbia, was among those in the Student Center who had heard nothing of the story. Eight of 12 students approached about the story Friday had heard nothing about it.
"I'm a big basketball fan," Draewell said. "I would've thought I would have heard about it."
Given that, he's not surprised.
Rule infractions happen everywhere, he continued, and that says as much about the state of the world as it does about the state of college athletics.
What he thinks is unfair, though, is the way that some schools are severely punished by the NCAA for athletic wrongdoings while others seem to skate through the fray.
"It's weird the way they treat different cases," he said.
Draewell said winning athletic teams add luster to any school. But, he added, allegations such as those the CCU program is now facing don't tarnish the luster, either.
Wallace, the student government parliamentarian, said he wouldn't want most students thinking like Draewell.
"I hope students don't use this to say, 'Oh, this is what athletics is all about,'" he said.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.