Eric Brunner played under coaches Denver Johnson and Brock Spack during his time at Illinois State from 2006-2010. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)
By Eric Stock
A former Illinois State football player is taking exception to the Chicago Tribune article which criticized the program's handling of recruits.
Eric Brunner, a former team captain, said the report mischaracterized the way student-athletes were treated after Brock Spack took over as coach after the 2008 season.
"Coach Spack as far as I know was extremely up front with the players coming in He honored their scholarships and everybody got to have a chance," Brunner said.
The Tribune story noted that five of the 22 players from Denver Johnson's 2008 recruiting class stayed with the program.
Keilman said he decided to do the piece after the NCAA decided to allow multi-year scholarships, which he suggested would improve the way student athletes are treated.
Brunner disagreed, saying student athletes have to prove themselves everyday.
"To give an 18-year-old potentially what is a five-year free college scholarship contract is ridiculous because we are still teenagers pretty volatile people," Brunner said.
The Tribune report noted that only 5 of 22 scholarship athletes in ISU's 2008 football recruiting class stayed long-term.
Reporter John Keilman said he focused on that class because it stood out amongst all other football recruiting classes in Illinois over a five-year period.
Keilman said he wants the story to serve as a realty check for college sports fans.
"I guess I would hope that people would look at college sports would look at it with a more critical or nuanced eye and understand that the entertainment that goes on the field can carry with it a price that's not readily apparent," Keilman said.
Keilman added that player turnover is typical for college football programs - especially when coaches change.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.