The Wal-Mart of college sports | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Wal-Mart of college sports

Posted By on Sun, Jun 3, 2007 at 5:58 AM

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That's the headline on a column in today's NY Times by marquee columnist Selena Roberts (subscribers only). It's about wider scrutiny of college coaches everywhere and pressure by fans for results from people paid millions.

You can copy and paste the following to read it as published in D-G.

It starts this way:

In Bentonville, Ark., secret agents inside the world of Wal-Mart have gone so far as to press an ear on a hotel room door to snoop on employees suspected of canoodling against the company code of prim culture.

In Fayetteville, Ark., a self-appointed sleuth inside the Razorbacks’ fan base recently sifted through the cellphone records of Houston Nutt, the married Arkansas football coach, noting how he sent more than 1,000 text messages to a female news anchor.

In Bentonville, amid the Wal-Mart cast of store greeters and boardroom stars, employees have filed lawsuits against the alleged work-place oppression of the homespun institution with its “always low prices” slogan.

In Fayetteville, amid a Razorback ethos of rubber hog noses and “Woo, Pig Sooie” battle cries, a lawsuit was filed against university officials by a fan who believed they ignored any role Nutt played in disseminating a booster’s e-mail message that insulted the team’s homegrown celebrity quarterback.

“Hello, Mr. Interception King,” the e-mail message began. Hello, trouble.

It began in December with a send button. And in Dear Diary-like accounts from the local and national news media, this hog saga included the transfer of the wonder-armed Mitch Mustain to Southern California and innuendo about Nutt’s private life in the spring. It may not end even after a hearing scheduled for tomorrow on the fan John Terry’s legal action against the university chancellor John White & Company.

This is the down and dirty world of Corporate College Athletics. This is Bentonville meets Fayetteville. But that’s just Ozark geography. The mayhem unfolding at Arkansas is only symptomatic of the industrialized amateur spirit knifing through the college game

Roberts winds her way back to Houston Nutt in closing.

Nutt is an Arkansas lifer now under siege. He certainly isn’t blameless in the Razorbacks’ dysfunction. He botched the Mustain relationship. He fumbled a few communication lines. But he led Arkansas to a successful 10-4 season last year — a profit margin apparently not good enough for some rigid investors in Fayetteville. Or is Bentonville?

Easy to confuse the Wal-Mart way with the college way.

No, there's nothing new here on the Hog Opera. But you don't want to be a template for trouble in all the most influential media outlets.

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