Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Tail Wagging the Dog

If you started the university and college system that we have in America today, would you include a department that brings with it high-profile arrests for violent crimes?  Would you want a department that fosters binge drinking among the student population?  Would you start a department where those participating would be encouraged to take part in prostitution, videotaping sexual encounters and hiring strippers for entertainment purposes?  Would you hire employees for that department that would engage in workplace affairs, encourage students to cover up crimes on campus and that would actively recruit students who can't meet minimum standards for admission?  And would you pay those employees more than anyone else on campus--including the chancellor and the system president?  Would you encourage students to attend the minimum number of courses for just one semester--not attend any classes in the second semester--and then leave the school?

If your answer to any of those questions is "Heck no, that's not what colleges and universities are supposed to be about" then your school would not have an Athletic Department.  College sports continues to give higher education a black eye--and the punches to the face continue to come faster and more often.

The most recent case involves two starters for the University of Alabama football team--a perennial power that competes for the national championship almost every year.  Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones were recently stopped by police and found to have marijuana and a stolen gun in their possession.  It appeared that an All Southeast Conference lineman and a quality defensive back were about to face felony charges and suspensions--until football-loving District Attorney Jerry Jones (not the Dallas Cowboys owner) stepped in and decided that no charges were going to be filed at all.  And his explanation shows just how much the tail wags the dog now in college sports:

"I want to emphasize once again that the main reason I'm doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and teenage years, working and sweating, while we were all in the air conditioning. ROLL TIDE!!"

OK, I may have added the "ROLL TIDE"--but you know that's what DA Jerry Jones was thinking while making that statement.  And where the judge that allowed a Stanford swimmer to get off with less than a year in jail for raping an unconscious woman--Jones will not face any blowback from his constituents because they are as big of Alabama Football fans as he is (well except for the Auburn fans--who will likely start a recall just so the players are charged and can't play in the Iron Bowl game against the Tigers).

This incident--and lack of institutional control--can be added to the Baylor Football sexual assault coverup that cost the University President Ken Starr and Coach Art Briles their jobs.  And the Baylor Basketball murder coverup more than a decade ago.  And the Minnesota Basketball sexual assaults and the Minnesota Basketball sex tape scandal.  And the Louisville Basketball prostitution parties for recruits.  And North Carolina Basketball and Football players having their coursework done for them--when they weren't enrolled in fake classes set up just for them.  And the false accusations made against Duke Lacrosse by a stripper hired to perform at their off-campus house.  And Rick Pitino being accused of raping a woman at a Louisville restaurant.  And Arkansas Football Coach Bobby Petrino getting in a motorcycle accident with the student assistant with whom he was having an affair.  And--well you get the picture.

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