I do think Joe Nocera looked beyond Penn State to the unaltered reality, the point I was trying to make in a column last week about the country's football fanaticism (including, but not limited to Arkansas). Writes Nocera of the New York Times:
What was most galling about [NCAA president Mark] Emmert’s news conference was its sanctimony. He kept talking about the “values” that athletics was supposed to embody, about how college sports is supposed to be an integral part of academic life, and how it should never overwhelm the mission of the university. “Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” he said.
But at big-time sports schools, football is always placed ahead of everything else. The essential hypocrisy of college sports is that too many athletes are not real students — and no one cares. Coaches make millions and lose their jobs if they fail to win. Universities reap millions by filling stadiums and making attractive television deals. They serve as the minor leagues for the pros. Everybody knows this — including the N.C.A.A. The notion that the Penn State case is going to change all of college sports is absurd. College football almost can’t help but corrode academic values. Nothing that happened on Monday is going to change any of that.
The State Police this afternoon released its report on Razorback football coach Bobby Petrino's motorcycle wreck.according to the UA website. Last month, she went to work directly for Petrino, when she was named the student-athlete coordinator for the football team. She's also earned an MBA. It apparently was she who flagged down a motorist to get assistance for the injured Petrino. She was not hurt in the wreck and said she didn't know what had caused it. The report quotes Petrino as saying because of sun and wind he was unable to maneuver the bike and drove off the road. He said he tried to lay the bike down and "the next thing I know I was lying in a wood pile."
Here's a recording of Petrino's remarks at a news conference Tuesday about the accident. He makes no mention of a companion, though he was asked about it. When asked if anyone was with him at the site and how he got help, he responded:
When I came out of a ditch, there was a lady there that had flagged down a car. And the guy that was in the passenger seat said get in we’ll just take you right to the hospital.
The State Police report said passing motorists picked up Petrino and Dorrell for a ride to the hospital, but "upon arival at the intersection of East Huntsville Road and Crossover Road in Fayetteville, Passenger Dorrell departed in her personel [sic] vehicle." At that spot, they met State Police Capt. Lance King, who took Petrino to a Fayetteville hospital.
I've asked Kevin Trainor, spokesman for the athletic department, about the employee riding with the coach.
The UA has some further questions to answer. Its statement Sunday after the wreck, which left Petrino with four cracked ribs:
Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals. He is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Our family appreciates respect for our privacy during the recovery and we are grateful for the thoughts of Razorback fans at this time.
Jeff Long, director of athletics and vice chancellor, said he has been in touch with the Petrinos and added that he will consult with the family to provide additional information at a later time. Until then, there will be no further information or comment on the accident per the Petrinos' request.
No other individuals? When did the UA, if ever, learn its statement was incorrect and why wasn't it corrected?
Petrino, in the press conference Tuesday, said his wife had been working him hard Sunday before he went out on the ride.
For the record, this is the general outline of Petrino's $4 million-a-year employment contract. It says that he may be terminated for "...engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of Head Football Coach or adversely affects the reputation of the University or UAF's Athletic Program in any way."
You may now invoke the time-honored maxim about crimes and coverups.
Petrino said this when Dorrell was tapped for a job with the football team:
“Jessica Dorrell will be a great addition to our football program. As a former student-athlete she has an enthusiasm for the Razorbacks and is familiar with what the University of Arkansas can offer. She is extremely organized and has a professional approach, which should translate well into our program and recruiting as we continue to place an emphasis on this area.”
Here's the sad thing: If this is a case of two co-workers enjoying a harmless recreational outing, the handling of the episode did everything to contribute to an untoward impression. And, for the record, Dorrell is planning a June wedding to Josh Morgan, an assistant Razorback strength coach. (The link about the wedding is now disabled.) . Pending marriage also noted here by the UA. And, if you'd like to send a gift, here's the registry.
The UA media relations department is mute so far. KFSM reached Dorrell and she said she had no comment at the moment.
My questions to the athletic department:
Joe Nocera, writing in the New York Times about the sex abuse case rocking Penn State, is unstinting in his criticism of the school and Paterno for its failures, particularly in an area that had already been rocked by Catholic church sex abuse. But he takes it to another abusive aspect of big-time college athletics — its exaltation of money above all else, including, at Penn State, even raped children. (We could add sexually abused women to that score at an uncountable number of institutions, including, on past inglorious occasions, the University of Arkansas.)
Big-time college football requires grown men to avert their eyes from the essential hypocrisy of the enterprise. Coaches take home multimillion-dollar salaries, while the players who make them rich don’t even get “scholarships” that cover the full cost of attending college. They push their “student-athletes” to take silly courses that won’t get in the way of football. When players are seriously injured and can no longer play, their coaches often yank their scholarships, forcing them to drop out of school.
“College football and men’s basketball has drifted so far away from the educational purpose of the university,” James Duderstadt, a former president of the University of Michigan, told me recently. “They exploit young people and prevent them from getting a legitimate college education. They place the athlete’s health at enormous risk, which becomes apparent later in life. We are supposed to be developing human potential, not making money on their backs. Football strikes at the core values of a university.”
Protecting profits is the real core value of big-time sports, Nocera writes.
The Penn State disaster has value if it would cause all of the U.S. to examine precisely this failing. I doubt it will be subject of much discussion at tailgates today.
Hat tip to Nate Allen, writing in the Democrat-Gazette today, about the increasing secrecy surrounding the money machine at Fayetteville that is the athletic department. The secrecy means lack of accountability and this, in turn, is a breeding ground for events such as Penn State is now experiencing. Wish I could give you a link to read it.
According to Talk Business, he's raised questions about the coincidence — and expense — of holding legislative committee meetings in Fayetteville on Hog football game weekends.
Would attendance be the same for a quiet fall weekend in, say, El Dorado? (Not that there's a thing wrong with El Do.)
Just as long as none of those legislators imbibe an alcoholic beverage in a skybox, everything is OK. But we all know alcohol isn't allowed on state property.
It includes something for all 19 men's and women's sports over a 30-year period, but I'd guess that the big revenue sports — football and basketball — will lead the agenda.
$300 million is a lot of seat premiums.
At news conference, Long said the inclusion of a Razorback Stadium expansion doesn't mean Little Rock Hog games will be eliminated. "That decision will be made sometime in the future," Long is quoted on Twitter by a NWA reporter. If Fayetteville has 30,000 to 40,000 more seats than Little Rock, I think I know the decision ahead of time.
The University of Central Arkansas' attempt to wring some presidential home renovation money out of Aramark, its food service vendor, has earned deserved attention. Through it all, has been heard the occasional mutter about a desire for similar scrutiny of deals elsewhere, such as at the University of Arkansas.
What, for example, does Coca-Cola pay for a 10-year contract for exclusive beverage sale rights and sponsorship privileges at the University of Arkansas, including UA athletics? After some back and forth, it's clear that the University of Arkansas intends to keep a significant portion of that arrangement — specifically the money — mostly a secret.
It's an affront to public accountability, though it continues a UA pattern.
It's time to think about drinks. The current Coke contract ends next June. A committee is said to be drafting an RFP for a new beverage contract. It's not yet known if the RFP will be given to select parties or openly advertised. I've requested a copy of it when prepared.
Meanwhile, here's the 2002 contract. It has provided about $1 million a year for nine years to the UA in beverage agreement payments, according to a university spokesman, but this isn't the whole story.
Scroll down to Part IV, where sponsorships and specific financial promises are covered, and you'll find an ocean of black ink obscuring payment requirements. Here, the UA claims a "competitive advantage" exemption from the FOI. It's a perversion of the FOI built on an erroneous ruling by Judge Chris Piazza in an FOI case the Arkansas Times brought against the UA years ago. It was, as I've noted before, a decision which FOI expert Leon Holmes, then attorney for newspapers but now a federal judge, found wanting in an interview about our case.
The University uses this bogus exemption to protect — not itself — but Coca-Cola. In our earlier case, where we sought the terms had UA agreed to in accepting $300 million from the Walton family, the university protected the Waltons desire for secrecy of its requirements for its gift, no more or less. The UA argued the university's sale price would put it at a competitive disadvantage in seeking contributions. But, as Holmes noted then, that element of the law is intended to protect trade secrets and the like of businesses doing business with the government, not to protect the government from public disclosure of what it promises in return for money. The university suffers no disadvantage because it is neither a competitor nor bidder. Does the state grant secrecy to the amount spent by any other outside contractor besides those dealing with the UA Athletic Department?
By NOT disclosing the details of the University beverage rights contract, the university actually harms itself. Full disclosure of past contracts might well make bidding higher on future contracts. It's so secret the UA has even blacked out the number of preferred parking spaces Coke gets at athletic events and the amount paid to the Walton Business School for an annual case study. Nor are details available on minimum payments on such things as exclusive vending rights on campus.
Big as this beverage deal is, it's dwarfed by the no-bid, no-RFP manner in which the University of Athletic Department put its entire marketing operation in the hands of ISP Sports (since purchased by a larger media marketer). When Athletic Director Jeff Long today announces his ambitious sports facilities building plan — built on Coca-Cola and ISP and other revenues — some tough sports reporter might want to ask about the specific amounts of money received for selling rights to the state's publicly owned university and what was granted in return. Doesn't look like a good day for sunshine, however.
UPDATE: More information from the UA:
Thanks to TAP for a link to a whale of a story from Yahoo Sports. It's about the first black to play on the University of Arkansas football team. No, not Jon Richardson, but Darrell Brown, a walk-on who never played in a varsity game but paid a big price at practice for trying to integrate Frank Broyles' Hog team in 1965.
I won't try to summarize it all here. But it includes some of the worst of the segregation era, including a gunshot wound; indifference and worse by some towering figures in Arkansas sports history; changing times, and, yes, a happy ending.
Brown is to be honored as a UA trailblazer at this Saturday's Auburn game.
Forty-five years later, he’ll walk out into the middle of Reynolds Razorback Stadium, a place he desperately sought as a player and later a protester.
“They’re even going to escort me onto the field,” he said.
Family and friends will surround him. Old teammates and new fans will cheer. The school plans to present him a trophy. Brown expects to be crying. Again. “No chance he makes it without crying,” Deedee said.
The whole thing still hurts him. This, he says, is important though.
“For the university to finally acknowledge I tried and for a particular reason I didn’t get the opportunity, it’s a major thing,” Brown said.
“All these years later, it’s a major, major thing.”
APOLOGIES: Brain malfunction. I called Darrell Brown by another name in my original post, thinking of a basketball Hog of some renown.
Hampton's objections: Wives and kids not invited; he doesn't much like Obama; it was a long time ago.
Hampton, who does some continuing TV work and promotional appearances, hasn't crossed my mind in years. But I noticed on Wikipedia that he sticks his foot in mouth now and then:
Hampton is also renowned for coining various nonsensical catch phrases, such as: "de facto cream-of-the-class, if you will", "throw it against the pallet to see what sticks", and "hit that town like Hurricane Katrina." Hampton later apologized for his Katrina comment, as well as calling himself an "idiot" for comparing the Dallas Cowboys to the cowboys of the film Brokeback Mountain.
You decide. Thanks to Saline Republican for the tip.
The fullness of the Ole Miss football experience that you deserve and have generously invested in, has not lived up to expectations recently. Coach Nutt and I met today and discussed the current state of Ole Miss football. Both of us are extremely disappointed in our performance this year. We agreed that to be successful, this disappointment must be met head on with solutions for improvement. We discussed several areas that needed improvement and I support Coach Nutt in his effort to correct those areas.
As I have said, Saturday’s performance and our running two-season SEC record are unacceptable. Our commitment to compete at a championship level is as strong as ever and we will succeed! We need your continued support of the team as Saturday is another SEC weekend and we need you here!
Here's your good free reading for the day. Civil rights historian (and Bill Clinton friend and diarist) Taylor Branch has written an important article for The Atlantic on college sports. The lead-in:
A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news. We profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table. But the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves. Here, a leading civil-rights historian makes the case for paying college athletes—and reveals how a spate of lawsuits working their way through the courts could destroy the NCAA.
Commercial interests buy schools and buy coaches. When they win, fans pay anything to see their favorite gladiators. And the gladiators? Some get an education. Some get injured for life. They don't get paid. Or, if they do and get caught ....
Matt Turner, anchor at KNWA, posted this photo last night on Twitter. It shows the success of the Razorback's football game patriotic observance. An amazing number of fans got the message on red, white and blue clothing in alternate sections of the stadium. UPDATE: Below is the fish-eye view from Brian Chilson of the Arkansas Times.
Bobby Petrino and wife Becky announced a $250,000 donation to Arkansas Children’s Hospital on Friday and the Arkansas football coach said he will lend his name to a golf tournament to benefit the hospital.
The donation will support construction of the hospital’s South wing, which is to open next July, and the Bobby Petrino Charity Golf Classic will be June 18 at The Country Club of Little Rock.
A family lounge and waiting area in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit will be named in honor of the Petrinos.
Petrino said in a news release that he and his wife chose to support Children’s Hospital because they believe in the mission of the institution. “As parents, we know the importance of having such a facility here in our state,” he said.
The announcement was made in conjunction with several Razorback players visiting the hospital.
“The gift from the Petrinos will help ACH continue to deliver the highest quality medical services in an environment that promotes and supports our commitment to family-centered care ...,” said Dr. Jonathan Bates, president and CEO of the hospital.
The new family lounge in the CVICU, which sees about 600 patients annually, will include a common area for families, a kitchen, showers, laundry facilities, and an area where family members will have access to computers and printers.
The line is open. Closing out:
* FOOTBALL FRENZY: The University of Arkansas announced that more than $28 million had been raised, including $10 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, for a $35 million drive to build new football facilities at Fayetteville.
* HIGH COTTON: Lot of coverage for Tom Cotton, who wants to run for Mike Ross' congressional seat though it's unclear whether he's spent any time living in Arkansas for years.
* SO MUCH FOR RETIREMENT: Dow dropped more than 400 points today.
* YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL: Man arrested for scuffle with Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders.
* ARGENTA LEADER: Mary Beth Bowman, who's been head of the North Little Rock Community Development Agency, has been named executive director of the Argenta Community Development Corporation. Among other duties, she'll continue to oversee a federally financed program to rehabilitate housing in the old downtown neighborhood.
According to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, preliminary autopsy findings indicate that Montel Williams, the 15 year-old student who collapsed and died during a Gurdon High School football practice earlier this week, died of an undiagnosed heart condition. Further testing is being conducted. The 911 call to police suggested Williams's collapse was heat-related. Williams's mother tells David Goins of Fox 16 News she still believes her son was being "pushed too hard." The team was practicing later in the evening to avoid high temperatures.
And all the Hog fans say: Noooooooooooooooooo!
Knile Davis, last year's leading rusher in the SEC, is expected to miss the season with an ankle injury, according to the AP.
Wow! Massive 0.002% "irregularities" which aren't further defined which could mean the person showing up…
It's time to remove competitive sports from schools, and put it in the private realm…
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