PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Angered by some derisive and profanity-laced taunts leveled at the visiting Navy football team and its fans last week, Rutgers University officials sent an open letter to students on Tuesday calling for better behavior at upcoming games.
The letter from athletic director Robert Mulcahy and Greg Blimling, the school's vice president of student affairs, said the behavior exhibited by ``a small group'' of students at Friday night's game, won by Rutgers 41-24, was ``undignified, disrespectful and unacceptable.''
The issue gained a wide airing when Mark DiIonno, a columnist for The Star-Ledger of Newark who is a Rutgers grad and Navy veteran, used his Tuesday column to condemn the students' ``loutish'' behavior. The Midshipmen, some of whom ``may soon be among the young American men and women fighting and bleeding and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan,'' deserved better, DiIonno wrote.
``At the very least, you'd think the Rutgers students would have some appreciation for the effort the undersize Navy players put out. ... They are what Rutgers was not so many years ago. Students first, athletes second. Except better,'' DiIonno wrote.
On Tuesday, Rutgers President Richard McCormick sent a letter to Naval Academy officials, apologizing for the students' actions.
``No student-athlete should ever be subject to profane language directed at them from the crowd, and certainly not the young men of the Naval Academy who have made a commitment to serve our nation in a time of war,'' McCormick wrote.

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