The Football Gods' Super Bowl

Race to the Bottom at Big Universities: The University of Louisville made itself look terrible by bringing back weasel coach Bobby Petrino, and no one seems to care except Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby. He notes Petrino "didn't pay any price for all the embarrassments he caused to the institutions where he was at, to his family, to the NCAA and to the member schools." This is a core point about institutional corruption in NCAA sports. If a player eats a free cheeseburger, all hell breaks loose. If a coach behaves dishonorably, he gets a $3.5 million-a-year deal. Human beings respond to incentives; in big-college football, cheating is rewarded and dishonor never punished.

Syracuse University is maneuvering to make itself look terrible. As noted by reader Mike Zaino of Rocky Hill, Conn., though a private school that costs undergraduates $57,450 a year, Syracuse is lobbying for at least $300 million in taxpayers' money to build a fancy new football stadium. Last year, Syracuse cleared an $11 million profit on football; a new stadium with luxury boxes would increase that. If a private school wants a nicer football stadium in order to gain revenue, why should average taxpayers -- many of whom cannot afford college for their own children -- be compelled to pay? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, born into privilege, endlessly says he's for the average person. If he backs a public giveaway to a private university, voters may find out where his true loyalties lie.

Louisville and Syracuse are amateurs compared to how the University of North Carolina is striving to make itself look terrible. First there was the 2011 scandal regarding fake courses for athletes. The NCAA lowered the boom on a player but only slapped the wrists of the university.

After all, the NCAA's policy is that players should be used up and thrown away, while colleges, coaches and athletic staff should roll in money. So fake courses were not in any way offensive to the NCAA. But a player revealing the existence of fake courses -- off with his head!

Last month the professor who ran the fake courses was indicted for fraud. What about higher-ups at the university, the deans and the chancellor? In big organizations, the people on top say they should receive ginormous paychecks because the buck stops with them. Then, when something goes wrong, they say they're not responsible. Holden Thorp, who was chancellor when fake courses were being offered at UNC, paid no fines, faced no indictment. He's now provost at Washington University in St. Louis, a cushy job at a top school. Thorp and Petrino ought to get together and have a few laughs.

The University of North Carolina's latest move toward the bottom is to lash out at a whistleblower who says many Tar Heels athletes don't read well enough to be qualified for high school, let alone college. Only after trying to blame the messenger did the school agree to investigate: first step in the "investigation" is ordering researcher Mary Willingham to stop discussing her allegations. Maybe the investigation will show the claims of illiterate athletes aren't true. If they are true, will Tar Heels chancellor Carol Folt resign?

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Bud and June Runion vanished while going to meet someone to buy a vintage car they found on Craigslist, authorities said. | Inset: Jay Towns is seen in this booking photo provided by Telfair County Sheriffs Office.
Courtesy of family | Telfair County Sheriffs Office
PHOTO: From left, Tom Brady in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 18, 2015 and Russell Wilson in Seattle, Wash., Jan. 18, 2015.
Matt Slocum/AP Photo | Ted S. Warren/AP Photo
PHOTO: An illustration of Kepler-444 and its five Earth-sized planets.
Tiago Campante/Peter Devine
PHOTO: Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Edith Baneth, age 88, poses in her home, Dec. 1, 2014
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images