OK. I know there are big fish to be fried. But let’s face it. Not much new for even a pajama-clad citizen journalist to rant about these days. T-Paw is history before most anyone even knew he was running for president. Congress is on vacation until after Labor Day. The Prez is going around the country on his don’t-blame-me-it’s-still-Bush’s-fault bus tour before heading on holiday. Kim Kardashian is still getting married. But my invitation must have been lost in the snail mail.
And the Gang of 12 Super Committee remains deadlocked. Oops. That’s next month’s story. Sorry about that.
So I guess I’ll opine on Ohio State football and the black eye Jim Tressel has given the Buckeyes. The NYT had a long story yesterday about the OSU debacle and the spotlight it has put on Prez E. Gordon Gee. By all accounts, Gee appears to be an outstanding university president — but he has himself in somewhat of an ethical jam by advocating high standards for college athletics, yet pretty much passing the buck when it came to his own coach and football program.
Here’s from the article, “At Ohio State, Football Scandal Rattles Reform-Minded President“:
Until that month, Gee, 67, enjoyed his reputation as an outspoken critic of Division I athletics, as a grand reformer, bespectacled and bow-tied, who once “declared war” on the culture of college sports. He knew this reputation would collide with the transgressions of the football program, his pleas for change marked hypocritical in the wake of the investigation.
Even if he disagreed, he knew how the whole thing looked. “Because here he was, the iconic leader, out there beating the drums for college reform, and he’s got a scandal on his hands,” Gee said. “He’s just like everyone else.”
The events of the past week — a retreat among university presidents to discuss reform in college athletics and then Ohio State’s meeting with the N.C.A.A.’s infractions committee — have further exposed Gee’s predicament. Namely, what power, if any, college presidents hold over their athletic departments and whether anyone, Gee included, can actually enact change in major college sports.
Yet Gee views the scandal in opportunistic terms. He is beating the same drum, using what happened at Ohio State as proof.
“We’re in the middle of this firestorm, and everyone will be looking to us,” Gee said. “I’ve always said I wouldn’t like to have myself judged by the vicissitudes of an 18-year-old running a football. But this is the system. College athletics has gotten beyond itself. Do I think it’s broken? Yes.”
Even, apparently, under his expansive roof.
When the scandal involving the rules violations first surfaced, Gee appeared willing to give Tressel a pass. Instead, Gee should have taken the ethical high road and either fired Tressel or forced him to resign. Yeah, I know. Tressel beat Michigan. The alums were happy and I expect prone to keep the checkbooks open. And it’s only football.
Well, not really. It’s about the reputation of the university and the integrity of its chief executive officer.
The NYT article IMO was favorable to Gee — but regardless, he earned his black eye.