The Syracuse child molestation situation is just the tip of the college athletics moeny-go-round…
When I was a little kid, all I knew about college football was that people like Fred McMurray drove to the games in really old cars with racoon tails, in really old black and white movies.
The fans yelled super silly cheers and it wasn’t about whether the teams won or lost but how they played the game.
That was then…
Today it’s every man, woman and child for his or herself. The Almighty Buck is the King of Kings and who cares how the game is played – just win, baby!
We’ll likely never truly get to the bottom of the Penn State child abuse scandal. The school isn’t making its records public and the NCAA will have plenty of wrists it can slap without taking everyone involved in the coverup to the public woodshed.
If everybody involved at Penn State were outted, they might have to retool the entire school hierarchy.
Now let’s take a look at the Syracuse situation where head coach Jim Boeheim bogusly defended longtime assistant Bernie Fine two weeks ago after two men accused Fine of abusing them. Here’s what Boeheim said right after the men came forth with their stories:
"This is alleged to have occurred … what? Twenty years ago? Am I in the right neighborhood? It might be 26 years ago? So, we are supposed to what? Stop the presses 26 years later? For a false allegation? For what I absolutely believe is a false allegation? I know he’s lying about me seeing him in his hotel room. That’s a lie. If he’s going to tell one lie, I’m sure there’s a few more of them.”
Now after one accuser produced an incriminating recording of a phone conversation with Fine’s wife confirming the abuse, Fine was fired and Boeheim has been forced to change his tune.
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling," Boeheim now says. "I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."
Therein lies the problem…
Instead of merely covering it up like ousted Penn State coach Joe Paterno undoubtedly did, Boeheim used his bully pulpit to discredit Fine’s accusers, effectively discouraging other victimes from coming forward lest they receive the same treatment. Had that phone recording not surfaced, Boeheim would still be blaming and abusing the victims.
What Boeheim should have done is say something like, "This is a grave matter that needed to be looked into, even though I’ve known and respected Bernie Fine for many years."
What Boeheim did instead was – like seedy lawyers in rape cases – try to shift the blame to the victim.
And that’s totally bogus.
"Is it possible that Boeheim will be able to continue to coach the team?" the Washington Post now asks. "Should he be allowed to continue to coach the team? Or should he, like Paterno, be fired?"
"Victim advocates give Coach Jim Boeheim’s apology a mixed review," reads a headline on syracuse.com.
"The Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, a Catholic priest who is president of Road to Recovery Inc., a non-profit that supports victims of sexual abuse (said) Boeheim’s earlier statements were ‘completely inappropriate and out of line. Now he’s backtracking on his story…’ Once again it proves when people begin to attack victims it comes back to haunt them."
Syracuse station WSYR TV reports, "The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement calling on Syracuse University to discipline head men’s coach Jim Boeheim the day after his longtime assistant Bernie Fine was fired as a result of allegations that he molested young boys."
"We’re glad that Bernie Fine has been fired but it’s crucial that Syracuse University officials discipline Jim Boeheim for his extraordinarily hurtful recent comments attacking abuse victims. Boeheim’s apology will do little or nothing to ‘undo’ the harm he’s caused. Nor will it deter others from making similarly callous comments in the future. If the university really wants to move forward, and create a safe climate for abuse victims, it must take decisive action against Boeheim."
Clearly the old jalopies and racoon tails are things of the past, but among us doesn’t think big time college athletics is about one thing and one thing only; M-o-n-e-y.
KU‘s former, now-ousted athletic director came in, immediately extorted millions of dollars from longtime KU football and basketball ticketholders, then dropped more than a million bucks in legal fees squashing tiny Lawrence T-shirt maker Joe College. Something about shirts like "Muck Fizzou" costing KU money by infinging on its trademark.
Missouri bails out of a century-old rivalry for a fist full of dollars. Schools like KU and MU routinely use clout to minimize news coverage of things like bar fights involving student athletes and other embarrassing indescretions. And how in the world did MU coach Gary Pinkle get his DUI charges wrapped up with a bow in a single week?
Like that ever happens in the real world.
It’s blatantly evident that the money behind these school’s sports teams has resulted in clout and influence for athletics officials that surpasses that of the school’s leaders. It’s time to call a halt to that.
Which will never happen because the enforcers at the NCAA enjoy cashing their fat paychecks too.
For example, in the NCAA’s 2009 tax filing, then head Myles Brandon took down a $1.765 million paycheck, with the next 14 staffers making between $640,107 and $261,559.
Those are some pretty big bucks in a Midwestern burg like Indy.
By the way, the NCAA’s total revenue that year was $740, 910, 957.
Should college athletics revenues go into state educational funds benefiting the many and not the few? Probably. Will that ever happen? Doubtful.
Should Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim be fired for doing the completely wrong-headed thing when his now obviously guilty assistant was accused? Probably. Will it happen?