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Player's OWI Case Prompts Wisconsin AD to Review Policy

Paul Steinbach
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University of Wisconsin first-year athletic director Chris McIntosh is questioning how his department should approach cases in which athletes are cited for drunken driving after a Badgers offensive lineman played in a game the same day the school became aware of his OWI offense.

As reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, 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, stating that the Oct. 17 citation of UW guard Josh Seltzner for operating under the influence “potentially highlights a gap in the policy.”

Seltzner suited up and played six days later in Wisconsin's game at Purdue. A spokesperson said UW officials only became aware of the citation on game day.

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

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, the State Journal reported. 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.

According to the State Journal, 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.

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

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.”

“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,” said McIntosh, who was an All-America lineman at Wisconsin in the 1990s. “This case highlights an opportunity for us to determine what a better approach might be.”

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