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Dismissal shows ‘Butler Way’ is more than slogan

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The Butler Way cuts both ways.

How many schools can say that?

Chrishawn Hopkins’ discharge from the Bulldogs basketball team is a significant blow to a team facing its first season in the Atlantic Ten Conference.

It also is a sign that Butler’s code of honor among student-athletes is more than just talk.

Former Indiana All-Star Hopkins was Butler’s best athlete, able to break down defenses off the dribble and strike from long range. With him, the Bulldogs had an added dimension, one that greatly enhanced its cadre of wing players toeing the arc and waiting to stroke a 3.

Not anymore.

Hopkins, who would have been a junior, was dismissed for a series of rule violations.

“We consider it a privilege to represent Butler University as a member of our team,” coach Brad Stevens said. “With that privilege, comes a requirement and responsibility to meet the standard of our team rules. Dismissal is the consequence of failure to do so.”

One can’t help but feel for Hopkins, a kid from a troubled past whose basketball skills attracted attention and helped push him to a high school diploma at Manual.

Stevens gave Hopkins a chance. Several chances, at that.

He awarded him a scholarship and put up with minor indiscretions that led to suspensions last season.

Through it all, Hopkins showed glimpses of basketball brilliance, including sparking a Bulldog rally in a 2010 NCAA regional final against Florida.

He started 24 games last season and was third in scoring and assists.

But the latest transgressions were apparently too much.

So, Butler will start play without one of its key pieces.

Something more important is at stake here, though.

The Bulldogs emphasize responsibility to team and others in a way that distinguishes themselves and the university. As Stevens said, team membership is a privilege.

It would be easy to let those standards slide, especially when a key contributor is concerned.

One wonders how many coaches may have looked the other way. After all, Hopkins’ behavior is an internal matter. While gossip circulates about what might have happened, it is just that.

To their credit, though, Stevens and Butler enforced the code it expects athletes to follow.

The Butler Way, we know once again, is something more than a platitude. It is a standard to which adherence is expected.

The Hopkins departure is a tough moment for all involved.

The Bulldogs will miss him but will certainly survive. One hopes that Hopkins finds his compass and moves forward as well.

Through it all, in at least this athletic program, we are reminded that student-athletes can and should be held to standards with consequences.

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