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UNC Players Guilty Of Assault


A North Carolina football player read up on the behavior of athletes and their role in society as part of his punishment for assaulting a freshman last year.

Greg Harris and two other football players were ordered to turn in reports on a book of their choice as part of their sentences.

Harris wrote his report on the book Fair Play: Sports, Values and Society, by Robert L. Simon, focusing on the behavior of athletes and whether they should be considered as role models.

"Star athletes, whether they want to or not, become role models," Harris wrote. "And, because athletes play an important part in society, it is pertinent that they remain ethically grounded and that they promote positive and healthy lifestyles."

For instance, Michael Jordan never knew he would become famous and be a star basketball player, Harris wrote.

"All that fame came with the territory," he wrote. "I maintain my opinion because others may think different. But being famous goes hand in hand with being a role model: Athletes must accept this role along with the fame and fortune."

When district court judge Alonzo Coleman assigned the book reports, he said the players could choose any book to read.

"It will give a little insight as to their thoughts," Coleman said at the time. "I don't intend to tell anyone what book they might read."

The other two players, Ricco McCain and Varian Ballard, also turned in their reports.

McCain wrote his book report on The Black Jacobins, by C.L.R. James. The four-page, typed and double-spaced report tells the story of Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution.

Ballard's book report was on The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. Written in term-paper style, Ballard's 12-page report contains a bibliography at the end listing 11 books or journals he consulted and quoted.

The three players were found guilty of assaulting student David Beyer outside a nightclub in December 1997.

Another man, former star linebacker K. Mays, also was involved in the assault and pleaded no contest to the charges. He did not attend the same court hearing as the others because he was attending training camp for the Minnesota Vikings.

Mays also has a book report due Aug. 17, but has not yet turned it in, Coleman said Monday.

The three players will also miss North Carolina's first three games this season.

Ballard and McCain are defensive tackles, and Harris is a wide receiver.

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