Brent Schrotenboer of the USA Today unleashed a pipebomb regarding the past of current NCAA President Mark Emmert last night, detailing the shortcomings of the schools he ran and the mountains of violations, both within the NCAA's rules and out, that were committed during his tenures.
I have written about the mistakes he has made in regards to the Penn State (links one and two) and Miami (links one and two) cases in the past, but Schrotenboer researched and found documents implicating him in scandals at the institutions of higher learning he has taken residence in dating all the way back to the early 1990s when he was the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Montana State. The following is a brief timeline of the mis-steps of his administrations:
- In 1993 at Montana State, the school was found to have "lack of institutional control" due to an academic fraud scheme between an assistant coach on the team and a recruit. Emmert said that his duties did not encompass anything on the athletics side of the school.
- At the University of Connecticut, where Emmert was chancellor from 1995-1999, a $1 billion project to upgrade campus facilities was undertaken, but, according to Emmert's own notes, there were at least six key issues dealing with the construction that should have halted the plans. Emmert never voiced the issue with the school's Board of Trustees and, as a result, parts of the project had to be re-done in the mid-2000s as 100 fire and safety codes were violated.
- At LSU, where Emmert's infamous quote "the success of LSU football is essential to the success of Louisiana State University" made him what we see now as the biggest hypocrite in collegiate academics and athletics, it was found that academic issues involving the school's football players were rampant, but that Emmert under-reported their significance to the NCAA, presumably to protect an athletics program that was already under probation. Soon after Emmert left, two instructors sued LSU saying that they were forced from their jobs for being whistleblowers. One of the former employees stated that the athletics culture was rampant "much like Romper Room".
- Finally, at Washington, while no violations seemed to have been committed during his tenure, he did use taxpayer money to build new facilities and make head football coach Steve Sarkisian the highest-paid state employee during a time of state economic recession.
In each situation, Emmert passed off the blame to others working around him at the time, saving face and credibility which ultimately led him to his position at the NCAA.
A few things to take from this story:
- Mark Emmert states once again that he does the president of the NCAA doesn't get involved in infractions cases. Well, we know from Don Van Natta's story on the inside look behind Penn State's unprecedented sanctions, that simply isn't true.
- The NCAA has been investigating the academic fraud allegations at North Carolina going on two years now. There has been an inordinate amount of information to support the claim that the Afro-American studies program at UNC was an athlete-filler and that the work wasn't real. But in August, the NCAA ruled that the classes were legitimate while also saying that the investigation into the fraud allegations would be continued. Taking a look back at his time at LSU, it would seem that the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", or rather, you can't force a man to play by the rules, rings true once again.
- Making Nick Saban the highest-paid coach in the history of college football at LSU and throwing money at Steve Sarkisian while at Washington go against the whole putting people (i.e. coaches) on pedestals comments he made at the announcement of the sanctions back in July.
Mark Emmert is a liar. Mark Emmert is unethical. Mark Emmert is a hypocrite.
This isn't a bitter Penn State fan shooting off at the mouth, still burning with rage due to sanctions levied against his alma mater. These aren't the words that one needs to write in order to grab pageviews for a website.
These are facts. The documents speak for themselves. Testimonies, affidavits and actions speak for themselves.
In short, we demand the highest level of integrity and accountability not only from our peers but also from the national office.
In February, the NCAA executive committee met and reiterated their belief that Mark Emmert was the man to lead the organization in their ever-continuing fight for collegiate athletics reform. As part of their three-paragraph statement outlining their vote of confidence in Emmert, they included the line above, letting the public know that from the top of the pyramid to the bottom, the utmost amount of responsibility and ethics were needed and expected.
For twenty years, associates of Mark Emmert have said that has done what he needed to do to look good for career advancement. Some may say that he's at the top now, but old habits die hard. Integrity isn't something you can teach and it seems like the NCAA president isn't all for learning anyway.
The sins of your past always catch up to you at some point. Maybe, just maybe, that time has come for Mark Emmert.
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