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Emmert Talks About Changing Cultures (Just Pay No Attention To The Cash Behind The Curtain)

Yesterday morning, NCAA president Mark Emmert dropped the proverbial hammer on Penn State University.  As most of you know, I believe the decision to suddenly change the NCAA’s mission and jurisdiction was driven by a desire for applause and will eventually result in difficulties for college sports’ governing body.  But this post isn’t about whether Emmert erred — he did — or whether so many Penn Staters’ decisions to look-the-other-way were atrocious — they were.

This isn’t as much about what Emmert said during yesterday’s press conference, either (though his words were played again and again on television and radio all day Monday).  Nope, this post has more to do with what Emmert didn’t say during his presser.

 

What Emmert did say:  “No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims.  However, we can make clear that the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”

What Emmert did not say: “Hey, did you see all those colleges switch conferences earlier this month?  West Virginia to the Big 12 where it’s nearest rival is in Iowa?  Oh, it all may seem crazy, but it was all about mucho dinero, my friends.”

What Emmert did say:  “If you find yourself in a place where the athletic culture is taking precedence over academic culture then a variety of bad things can occur.”

What Emmert did not say:  “Whoo-boy, $80 million bucks a year for Rose Bowl television rights!?!  Imagine the cash that schools will bring in from their new college football playoff.  You know, the one that will force our student-athletes to play more games and increase their risk of injury.”

What Emmert did say:  “These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgement of educators.”

What Emmert did not say:  “I’m making 1.6 million greenbacks a year, suckers, and that wouldn’t be possible without the mega-TV contracts we cut with networks that are desperate to air our NCAA basketball tourney each year!”

 

Anyone who’s read this site for very long knows that I am no serial basher of the NCAA.  In fact, I’ve often defended the governing body because many/most folks take shots at them for anything/everything.  Most of the time, the gripes the NCAA endures just aren’t legit.

But for Emmert to try and trot out a “change the culture” line when the very presidents who gave him the power to make Monday’s ruling have themselves moved their schools from one conference to another and created a new football playoff all due to a lust for cash?  And for Emmert to suggest that there’s too much emphasis placed on sports when he himself makes $1.6 million per year for guiding an institution founded to govern — wait for it — sports?

Sorry, but that’s just too much double-talk for me, too many mixed messages.  That has nothing to do with Emmert’s decision to plow Penn State’s field.  It does have something to do with what Emmert did say and even more to do with what he didn’t say while plowing said field.

Change the culture my foot.  When big-time NCAA institutions no longer put television contracts and conference payouts first, then Emmert can talk about changing the culture.  The realists out there know that the money made from collegiate athletics is exactly what drives the type of culture Emmert badmouthed on Monday.  Well, that money’s not getting any smaller.  So the NCAA prez better not hold his breath expecting schools to change their cultures.

 


11 comments
KWD
KWD

John, I understand you disagree with the NCAA involvement here, but I think your critical approach to Mark Emmert comes across as petty. Most of us have plenty to criticize the NCAA about but this is probably not the time to paint the NCAA as an uncaring, money grubbing organization. Save it for another time. This has nothing to do with teams switching conferences or how much money Rose Bowl television rights are or how much money Mark Emmert makes. At least understand that Emmert and the NCAA were between a rock and a bolder.They would have been criticized either way. If you want to argue that the NCAA exceeded the precedent and scope of their organization then you may have a sustainable case. Otherwise, you just seem to be airing your grievances against the NCAA. I am sure you will have plenty of opportunities in the future to point out the greed and lack of leadership in the NCAA.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @KWD 

 

This has nothing to do with whether or not the NCAA should have gotten involved.  

 

The obvious point is that it's a little silly for Mark Emmert to talk about changing cultures when the NCAA and its member institutions are so driven by cash.  That's a totally different subject.  And a darn important one to talk about.

 

Penn State covered up crimes to protect its biggest cash cow.  That same culture exists in a lot of places.  As Emmert suggests.  Until schools are willing to stop letting athletic dollars strongly influence their decisions, that culture won't change.

 

That's a totally separate -- and I think important point -- to discuss following Emmert's comments yesterday.

 

Thank you for reading,John 

Bocktean
Bocktean

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Makes sense.

 

But someone has to make a decision to do something or do nothing. Yes, the universities are making money hand over fist from games played by young men and women who receive services of some value but no real money for their efforts. And I suppose you could argue that removes all moral authority to pass judgements of any kind.

 

Penn State basically put Sandusky in charge of their Child Relations division - after knowing what he had been accused of. I am not going to lose sight of that just because the judge and jury in this case have warts.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Bocktean 

 

I think you missed the point.

 

Emmert says it's time for schools to change their athletics-first cultures.  We say as along as schools are doing everything possible -- changing conferences, starting playoffs they said they'd never start -- in a chase for cash, then those athletics-first cultures aren't going to change.

 

And I don't see how anyone can argue that point.  Penn State was protecting a money-maker.  If Jerry Sandusky had been a badminton coach, here's guessing he'd have been fired immediately.  

 

It's likely -- as Emmert suggested -- that other athletics-first cultures would protect their cash cows, too.  So much so that they would cover up Sandusky-like crimes?  Probably not... but that wasn't anywhere near the point of this post.

 

Thanks for reading,John 

Bocktean
Bocktean

 @John at MrSEC He didn't bust PSU for making money. He busted PSU for putting the printing of money ahead of child rape victims. The pursuit of money has become a sacred thing in our culture, to the point that it supersedes almost everything else and becomes an end justifying heinous means. A big enough profit washes away all sins, it seems. That's hardly unique to college football, and I'm glad someone finally decided to draw a line somewhere. And for the record, I would like to see it drawn a little more aggressively in areas besides college football.

 

 

Bocktean
Bocktean

 @John at MrSEC  ??? Let's back up.

 

Of course it's money-driven. That, in and of itself, is no big deal. Everything in our culture is money-driven, even non-profits: churches, adoption agencies, you name it. I use those two examples because the amount of money I've funneled into those two versus college sports would be a ratio of approximately 100 to 1.

 

Making money should be a means to an end, not an end justifying all means. That's where Penn State crossed the line. They protected the mission of making money rather than (take your pick: basic human decency, education, etc). And that line is increasingly being blurred in the wider culture by this following sensibility: "Did we make a huge profit? Then the Invisible Hand approves; damn the consequences to others." A Goldman Sachs executive resigned a few months ago and wrote a blistering op-ed saying that GS' business model had degenerated into legalized theft, preying on the trust on clients to churn and burn their accounts. Reaction by a significant chunk of the opinion-ators: "Yawn. They're making money. It's what they're supposed to be doing. Clients should be better informed." Seriously?

 

So - when that line gets crossed, it needs to be highlighted. it needs to be corrected. The courts are not going to highlight it. They deal in minutia for the most part, not social statements, even if people want to interpret their rulings in that light.

 

Professional associations of lawyers, CPAs and doctors understand this and police themselves above and beyond the courts. The NCAA just exercised that right. I'd like to see more of that sensibility at work in our culture, rather than just leaving our notions of "community" up to the courts and cable television.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Bocktean 

 

And again you miss the point.  In fact, you've come up with something I'm having a hard time following.

 

The culture of "king sports" is money-driven.  If you don't understand that or accept that then that's your call, but I think 99.9% of people agree that what makes sports king on a campus is its monetary value.

 

You say you like that Emmert is stating it's time to kill that culture.  Okay.  I've got no problem with that, either.

 

But as I've now stated about 50 times in the post above and the comment boxes below, until all the schools and Emmert's own NCAA starting drawing the line you speak of... yesterday's comments were hollow.

 

John

dee6634
dee6634

“Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said at Monday’s press conference.

 

The culture at PSU needs to change - just like it does at so many other universities across the country.You can count on one finger, the number of schools in the SEC where athletics don't rule the roost. In my opinion, The Big 10 and Big 12 and schools in numerous other conferences are too big and self governing. That needs to change.

 

 Good job by the NCAA. For once, they got it right. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @dee6634 

 

You state: "The culture at PSU needs to change - just like it does at so many other universities across the country."  

 

Agreed.

 

But -- and this was my point -- that's not going to happen as long as schools and their presidents are switching leagues and creating playoffs and paying their NCAA prez $1.6 million from big TV deals.  Money drives the culture.  Unless folks are willing to leave cash on the table to put sports back in a proper place... then cultures aren't likely to change.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

gatorwhisperer
gatorwhisperer

OMG, how ridiculous. More demonizing of people making money. 

 

Most of the adult world (except Obama and Mr. SEC, apparently) is cognizant that the pursuit of money can coexist with integrity, ethics, and virtuous moral standards. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with institutions maximizing the value of their sports programs. Period. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @gatorwhisperer 

 

Wow.  You really don't belong around here.

 

No one is "demonizing" people for making money.  I said money drives the culture.  Until schools aren't trying to protect multi-million dollar athletic programs, the culture won't change.  End of point.

 

I always get a kick out of Simpletons -- and it's clear you are one -- who try to label a writer they don't like as being in some rival political party.  We launched this site when Bush was in office and I had people respond to some of my posts as "typical right wing southern redneck," etc, etc.

 

This site aims for intelligent readers.  Story after story, you prove through your comments -- "Give us more hot coeds stories" -- that you're not in our target demo.

 

John



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