Big Time College Athletics Are Getting Worse
The cycle is familiar by now. We hear about some awful or appalling behavior or activity that goes on around a college athletics department. We are bothered by it and ask how it could happen. We ask how it could go on. We ask what kind of animal would do the things reported. And we wonder how it could possibly go on without others knowing. Then we eventually learn that people at the highest levels of power, influence and visibility knew about those appalling things – and either did nothing or next to nothing. Or, worse yet, covered it up and marginalized true victims.
The cycle continues to be predictable from there. The highly-paid, highly-visible person winds up on the defensive and ultimately talks about their negligent behavior as though it was an obstacle they overcame because they’re warriors. And in perhaps the ugliest element, braindead mouth-breathers lend their full-throated support to the powerful men who did nothing to protect those in less optimal positions.
Urban Meyer and the fiasco currently unfolding at Ohio State is just the latest in a series of awful, hard-to-believe scandals going on around college athletics. Thirty years ago you really only heard about teams paying players or the risk of a game being fixed by the mob or gamblers. Those were the scandals. But in less than a decade, we’ve heard about the atrocities committed by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State that were allowed to continue by Joe Paterno; the nauseatingly despicable abuse by Larry Nassar at Michigan State that led to us learning that MSU (including and particularly Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio) routinely covered up or otherwise obfuscated when it comes to sexual assault by members of the football and basketball programs; that Art Briles and other prominent members of the Baylor athletic department covered up or failed to act while the football team allegedly committed a number of rapes or other sexual assaults; and Minnesota football having up to ten football players involved in forcible sexual assault that sure sounded like the kind of nightmare every parent of a girl fears and when the players were suspended and the team threw a hissy fit and threatened to boycott, their dumb coach publicly supported them and was summarily fired.
And now over the past week we’ve learned about how a longtime assistant coach of Urban Meyer’s physically abused his wife repeatedly – including punching her in the stomach while she was pregnant – and that Meyer and his wife knew about it….and yet Zach Smith was only recently fired. When asked about it by Brett McMurphy at Big Ten Media Days, Meyer denied knowing anything about it. He’s since recanted and admitted he did and that’s why he fired Smith. The story is honestly just exhausting and I’m not going to recap every bit of it here but Meyer did fully imply – as have many of his fanboys on twitter – that he had done his job and notified his superiors. Boom, kicked it upstairs. Now, back to work, everyone.
Except you and I both know that’s now how it should work. It’s the same lame-ass defense that Paterno and his pinwheel-eyed apologists used – hey, Joe told his boss that one of his assistant coaches was raping young boys in a shower. What else is he supposed to do?
Urban Meyer reported that Zach Smith may have been slapping around his wife (for years) to his superiors…. and so that is supposed to absolve the most powerful man on OSU’s campus from having to do anything else? The guy making over $7M? That guy? No, sorry. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as the expression goes. I get that if your friend and a trusted employee turns out to be an abusive scumbag that it’s kind of an uncomfortable situation. I know nobody wants to have to have that conversation or fire the guy they’ve relied on for years. But when you’re paid $7M and all the trappings that come with being the HC of Ohio State, well, that’s part of what should be expected.
But you know this already, I’m betting. Because you, like many people, have some measure of common sense. At least I hope you do. Maybe I shouldn’t assume anyone does anymore, since the awful sh-t I just rattled off is going on more and more – with the scary thought being that those are just the ones we know about.
Today on the radio, I heard Rich Eisen going on for a bit about what Urban could have been thinking. How could he think that he had done enough. How could he think out-and-out lying when asked about it directly at media days would work out? How could he think this was acceptable in any way? To me, the answer is simple and it’s same answer at any institution where disgraceful behavior happens and is covered up. These guys believe – and are frequently correct – that they are above the rules. They believe that the rules – even common decency – do not apply to them. They’ve been convinced of this by years of being treated like royalty. And just like with bad parenting, these guys are only going to pass along those terrible beliefs and value systems to the young men they are mentoring. It’s a terrible cycle and will not stop until we collectively as a society finally decide that it’s not okay.
While it might seem like some pockets of people are fed up with it and would never in a million years make excuses for their millionaire head coaches, the truth is, there are always going to be dumb, pathetic people who will not only support the men who looked the other way while people suffered…but will do it gleefully.
Just look at these dipsh-ts who showed up for a “rally” in support of Urban Meyer yesterday.
Yes, that’s a grown adult (who most likely didn’t go to OSU) mocking the #metoo women’s movement that aims to give women the chance to speak out about violence or abuse they have endured. Mocking it over…….a college football coach not standing up for a woman being assaulted by her husband. Good god.
They also all got mad at the reporters and media types who had opinions on this subject that were now fawning of Urban Meyer. (The fun part was seeing people of truly limited intellect trying to suggest that they didn’t support domestic violence but did support Urban Meyer – while the suspension they are protesting is due to a university investigation into whether Meyer knowingly allowed domestic violence to continue.) It’s just disgusting, all of it, and speaks to the larger ongoing problem. This is why these guys feel – no, wait..sorry, it’s why they know – they are above the rules. They know they’re above the rules of common decency and treating your fellow human beings well – especially those who have nowhere near the power and visibility that you have.
As long as we continue to deify these people and make weak excuses (hey, he told his boss!) for their lack of follow-through, this will continue. And it will continue to disgust anyone with any decency within them, as it should.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is always available at 1-800-799-7233 or you can visit https://www.thehotline.org/ to learn more, chat with an advocate or donate to the cause.