March 9, 2011
More on Abdicating Responsibility: The Buckeye File
Yesterday I noted that a Deutsche Bank analyst publicly apologized to CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves for asking the question everyone wanted answered during an interview. In my view, avoiding the tough and obvious question in that setting is coming up short on the job of an analyst, although I also admit, in that context, there is some discretion and judgment.
[Full disclosure: I grew up in Michigan and earned my B.A. at Michigan State Unversity. I maintain this doesn't affect my views on the following, but I leave that for others to decide.]
Yesterday word came that Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel was in the hot seat because he failed to report NCAA violations to his school for nine months. This, despite a clause in his contract requiring he immediately report any such information to the school. Tressel now takes "full responsibility" for his actions, although one has to wonder how he missed his responsibility to tell his compliance office last April when, according to one report, he "received an e-mail . . . telling him that two of his players were caught up in a federal drug-trafficking case and the sale of memorabilia, breaking NCAA rules."
But that's not the part that shocks me -- this kind of thing, unfortunately, happens all the time. What gets me is the public acknowledgement of just how important football (successful football) is at Ohio State. In announcing a two-game suspension and $250,000 fine, it was reported:
[Ohio State University President Gordon] Gee also said he had not considered firing Tressel, who has a 106-22 record over 10 seasons.
"No, are you kidding?" Gee said with a laugh. "Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."
Wow. I knew athletics were a big deal for the public and for alumni at OSU. And trust me, I know it's not just OSU. But from my experience, most university leaders still believe that academics and integrity come first. And the rest of them are savvy enough to pretend they do.