University of Miami

UM coach Mark Richt on dismissing players: ‘Toughest thing to do’

Hurricanes players at spring practice on Sat., Mar. 19. 2016.
Hurricanes players at spring practice on Sat., Mar. 19. 2016. Miami Herald Staff

A day after University of Miami football coach Mark Richt openly dismissed walk-on kicker Jon Semerene from the Hurricanes program for “conduct detrimental to the team and to others,’’ he reflected on the difficulty of making such decisions.

“That’s tough,’’ Richt said Saturday, the Hurricanes’ first spring session in full pads. “That’s the toughest thing to do, because I love all these guys and I want them all to be here and make it. But if they’re doing some things that certainly are dangerous to the team, dangerous to other people.

“I’m not saying just if there’s a one-time episode of something, he’s going to be gone. But sometimes there’s some history that is involved in that — maybe it’s the third or fourth thing that we’re trying to teach, trying to get him in the right direction and he just won’t get it. Sometimes at that point I’ve got to make that decision.’’

Turns out that Semerene, who was arrested Friday morning in Coral Gables for driving under the influence and DUI/damage to property or person, was going down a dangerous path for some time. He also was arrested at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2014 for DUI in Broward County — and was internally reprimanded for an alcohol-related situation during UM’s football trip to Pittsburgh last November.

“We all need to represent this university the right way, in a first-class manner,’’ said Richt, who has not spoken publicly about Semerene’s DUI. “I know that’s what our president expects. I know that’s what [athletic director] Blake James expects. ... The guys do, too. Even the guys that make the mistakes, they know. They’re crushed. They’re hurt. They know they blew it.

“It doesn’t mean they’re a bad human being. It means they made a really foolish mistake that cost them. And now what’s going to determine success in the future is what he does from this point forward.’’

A few Hurricanes said they will use the recent arrests — offensive linemen Trevor Darling and Jahair Jones were arrested March 10, each on a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer without violence — as a learning experience. Darling and Jones are still on the team and practicing.

“We have to learn from it,’’ receiver Braxton Berrios said. “Some get kicked off the team and some use it as a building block.’’

Receiver Lawrence Cager said “the whole team” has taken heed. “You really can’t make bad decisions. It hurts the team. We’re all trying to be one as a team. We understand that we have to tighten up and as a unit get more collective and watch out for everybody and make sure we’re safe during the weekends and stuff like that.’’

Said Richt: “It’s a learning experience for the guy who’s going through it, but if anybody is paying attention, it needs to be a learning experience for them. Some actually can learn by watching and say, ‘Man, I don’t want that to happen to me.’ But some guys flat out gotta experience it, I guess.’’

When asked if his decision to dismiss Semerene “set the tone’’ for the others, Richt said that wasn’t his intention. “I’m just trying to run this program in a way that everybody will be proud, and try to help young men grow. If they can learn from their mistakes while they’re here, and make it, great. But if they have to be dismissed to learn from it and they end up becoming a better man for it, I’m happy there, too. Our goal is to help this kid in the future. That’s what it’s all about.’’

Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan