Groce on Darius Paul, Stephen Bardo

Groce on Darius Paul, Stephen Bardo

It's been nine days since Illinois men's basketball player Darius Paul was arrested and charged with resisting an officer and underage drinking and appearing on 87.7-FM The Game's morning show in Chicago with David Haugh and David Kaplan, Illini coach John Groce addressed the issue for the first time.

"These guys are 18- to 22-year-olds, we take a lot of pride in trying to impact their lives. I tell the guys all the time, the greatest gift God gave us was the gift to choose and choose wisely. Obviously, Darius put himself in a situation which was not a great choice," Groce said.

Paul has been suspended indefinitely from the team.

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In the wake of the incident, many have suggested that Paul, a young black man, was a victim of racial profiling by the university police who eventually arrested him.

"At the same time, I have full confidence in our law enforcement in Champaign in making sure our students and student-athletes safe. I think we're all kind of on the same page," Groce said.

Former Illini Stephen Bardo was among those who questioned why officers were following Paul in the first place. Bardo told The News-Gazette last week that he experienced racial profiling during his time at Illinois in the later 1980s and early 1990s and his son, Stephen Paul Bardo, a UI senior, has also been a victim of it. Bardo said there was overt racism in Champaign-Urbana.

"Obviously, I have a great deal of respect for Stephen and what he achieved at the University of Illinois as a player and as a student. The number of times that he's said to me and expressed to me that he wouldn't be in the situation he's in in his career without that Illinois degree, without the experience he had at the University of Illinois. I really believe he loves the place," Groce said. "There's no one I love in this world I love more than my wife and my two kids. When you have a child, that love you have for the child is like none other. Stephen's own son goes to the University of Illinois. If he didn't feel strongly about the University of Illinois, in terms of an environment where his own son, his own blood, could grow and develop as a person and a student, I'm sure he loves (Stephen Paul) as much as I love Conner and Camden, he probably wouldn't send him there. That tells me we're on track with that.

"Do I think it's an issue? You look at Los Angeles, that's a huge city. Look at the Donald Sterling issue. Do I think that's a fight everywhere that all of us understand to fight for what's right. I applaud the commissioner in the NBA. I think that fight exists globally. It's not an isolated fight by any means. I think we have a great community that's very supportive and on the same page and I have full confidence that those guys are keeping our athletes and students safe and they go about their business professionally. I've been there for two years and I've not seen anything otherwise."

Groce, Illinois football coach Tim Beckman and athletic director Mike Thomas were guests on the Kap and Haugh Show. They are in Chicago ahead of Friday's Illini Day at Wrigley Field for the game between the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 01, 2014 at 11:05 am
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Hey, I haven't listened yet. Did Mike Thomas thank Kaplan for his support of Bruce Weber, or for Kaplan's insistence that Weber got a raw deal?


Just curious. 


I hope Thomas at least told Kaplan that the Univeristy of Illinois paid Bruce Weber $1.3 million dollars yesterday, to not coach at the U of I.

Beem wrote on May 01, 2014 at 11:05 am

I wonder if Bardo thinks that the Tallahassee area is racist too, since they keep find ways to get Jameis Winston and other young black men in trouble. And as posters on the earlier Bardo comments mentioned--about the U of I being in C-U--I guess that's why FSU never gets any 5-star recruits.

chumberley wrote on May 02, 2014 at 12:05 am

So, because Bardo decides to send his son to the U of I, there must not really be any racism on campus?  I don't quite understand the logic in this reasoning.  Just because the benefits that the university offers outweigh the negative experiences, does not mean that those negative experiences are non-existent or should be negated.  There is nothing wrong with both expressing love for the university and simultaneously highlighting it's shortfalls.  Loving the university doesn't mean that you have to love everything about it.  Admitting his love for the university and the benefits he recieved from his attendance does not in any way diminish his position on the racism he experienced.

Furthermore, looking at it from the perspective of an African-American family, is there an alternative place for their child to school?  Is there honestly a school that Bardo's son could attend where he would not be at risk of experience racism?  Considering the state of race relations in this country, probably not.  Being a young Black man in America, Bardo's son is likely going to encounter racism on any campus he attends.  So this in itself is not a reasonable criteria on which to eliminate a college choice.

I am also amused at the assumption that Bardo was the sole decision maker in where his son attended college.  How does anyone know that Bardo's son wasn't the driving force behind his own attendance at the university, possibly despite his father's feelings?  

Hamsterdam wrote on May 05, 2014 at 12:05 pm

What a strange response by Groce.

He is aware that 18 year old kids don't always do what their parents say right? Stephen's son probably chose where he wanted to go. And just because Stephen loves the university doesn't mean he didn't experience racism.

I'm really confused as to why he mentioned Donald Sterling. Probably not a good idea to bring up the most popular racist in America while trying to defend the university against a claim of racism. Was he comparing the university police to Sterling or trying to point out that racism exists in big cities as well as small ones? Duh!

But his best comment had to be this jewel "I'm sure he loves (Stephen Paul) as much as I love Conner and Camden". Really Groce? Duh x50.