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USA Today Digs Into Emmert, Digs Up Issues For LSU, Saban

mark-emmert-ncaa-prezNCAA president Mark Emmert is a man under fire.  The organization he runs is one of the least popular in the country, it’s mired in a scandal regarding its own handling of an investigation, and it’s facing a potentially landscape-changing lawsuit.

Now the press is getting involved, too.  USA Today has begun digging into Emmert’s past.

It’s this writer’s opinion that any time you dig long and hard enough into someone’s past — especially someone who’s worked at a number of different jobs — you’re going to find dirt.  That’s because people who work in a number of places are bound to make a number of enemies.  All it takes is for one or two enemies at each stop to start hurling accusations and a man’s reputation will go bye-bye lickety-split.

That said, one of the places Emmert worked was at LSU as the school’s chancellor from 1999 through 2004.  People there are talking.  We’ll let USA Today pick it up from there:


“At LSU, an academic fraud scandal emerged in the football program under then-coach Nick Saban in 2001-02. Emmert oversaw an investigation into the allegations made by a university instructor that eventually acknowledged five minor and isolated violations and declared most of the claims ‘unfounded.’

Emmert even met on LSU’s behalf with the NCAA, which accepted LSU’s findings. But after Emmert decided to leave LSU in 2004, a witness testified in a deposition that the instructor was telling the truth and that the problems were far more systemic than the school admitted, even extending to grades being changed for football players, according to court records.

The culture was ‘appalling’ and ‘like Romper Room,’ the employee said in 2004 testimony.”


That blurb shifts into a longer breakdown of LSU’s issues under Emmert.

Whether Emmert was guilty of a cover-up or not, LSU is back in the news today.  So is Nick Saban, who will have to provide answers about this situation and how it might pertain to his current program at Alabama.  Already enemies of Emmert — Penn State fans, duh — are taking the USA Today report as Gospel.

The old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is just that — an old saying.  The phrase was coined long before talk radio, the internet, and social media made the rush to judgement oh so much easier.  USA Today’s decision to re-open the vaults on Emmert will most assuredly cause headaches for a few folks in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa over the next few days.

Not to mention for Emmert, upon whose head currently rests the NCAA’s presidential crown.  As well as the weight of the world.

Here’s hoping Emmert doesn’t complain about any of this.  After all, it was his organization that decided last summer to take out-of-its-jurisdiction, precedent-setting, PR-driven action against Penn State.  The public was outraged by the Jerry Sandusky scandal and only massive penalties could sate its bloodlust.  The public wants a smaller, less powerful NCAA right up to the point that it wants a body to overstep its bounds and hammer some school, coach, or president.

Well now the sporting world is outraged by the NCAA over, well, over anything and everything.  Emmert is the face of this year’s big scandal.  He’s got the lynch mob on his tail this time around.

Emmert probably feels as though he’s not being given a fair opportunity to defend himself.  But I seem to remember a few folks at Penn State saying the same thing just a few short months ago.

It’s funny how quickly public opinion can change.  One minute you’re cheered as the righteous executioner.  The next you’re the one who everyone wants stoned.

Unfortunately in this case, LSU, Saban, and Alabama might get a little bruised, too, just for having connections back to Emmert.


SIDENOTE – Not surprisingly, the first couple of comments under this have completely missed the point and taken this as some sort of hit piece on Saban/Alabama.

1.  LSU officials and Saban will be asked about the USA Today story.  Though the story is old, the witch hunt to bring down Emmert has dug it up.

2.  I think I made it clear to most folks who actually took the time to read the piece that I don’t think this is Gospel regarding Emmert, but the court of public opinion will.



I said from the beginning of the report of the Miami investigator scandal that the only thing Emmert should do is have an investigation, (seems like a pretty light one now) clean house (he shouldn't be done...but he is) and then step down. Only way to give any credence that he was a man of integrity. He wouldn't on his own, but this is the sound of the hounds in the hunting perty. He will leave soon, but his integrity is in shambles and so is the NCAA's imvestigative and enforcement.


So let the dirty laundry be aired out. Will see if they wash it or burn it. With power generally corruption follows. Will be kind of fun to watch this play out.


Emmert has made enemies, and those enemies include a lot of people in the media. Saban already had them. A story like this fits neatly into their agenda, and it's foolish to think they won't use it as fuel for their speculations.

 Emmert was already a dead man walking before this story. Saban will growl, the B1G will pay anonymous bloggers to make wild accusations, and life will go on.


The problem is the hypocrisy, John. Emmert came on to the NCAA scene like Matt Dillon from Gun Smoke. Well, if Matt Dillon has been breaking laws himself, how much credibility does he have? LSU settled with the whistle blowers, even apologized to one of them. More importantly, if you go back through the minutes of the LSU Faculty Senate meetings, they create a new office to protect whistle blowers because of the incident. They recognized there was no protection against university retaliation for the employees who report to their supervisors. IMO, that's an admission.

In this case LSU promised the whistle blower they would not make her name public and then the AD, Skip Bertman, did exactly that by releasing enough info to the press that a google search would out the person. That is retaliation, classic, SEC text book (no pun intended), "We don't want to have ineligible players before the bowl game. Get on board or get out", retaliation.

What you permit, you promote.

So, flash forward to the NCAA investigation into UNC. Whatever the result, one could look at the NCAA findings with a skeptical eye, because the head of the organization conducting the investigation lacks credibility. In what may seem like a weird comparison, Emmert is like Ed Rush, no matter what call that guy makes from here on out, people will have a reason to doubt his motives.

Interested observer
Interested observer

Since getting to Alabama, we've seen Bama's APR and graduation rates rise every single year.  So is Saban an academic cheat or an academic proponent?  All I can go by is what I see in the newspapers and the NCAA reports about the past 6 years at Alabama.The loophole in the textbook distribution system for Alabama Athletes had been going on for a couple YEARS prior to Saban (and mostly by Track athletes).  But when it was discovered by the Athletic department in the fall of 2007, it was immediately self reported.  It was a problem that started way before Saban at Alabama but largely discovered and cleaned up by Saban's administration.Just because someone who held a grudge at LSU is  saying something now doesn't mean there are new questions.  It's already been debated and ruled on.  No new questions can be answered that haven't already been addressed. 

Interested observer
Interested observer

"So is Nick Saban, who will have to answers about this situation and how it might pertain to his current program at Alabama."

No, no he won't.  Just b/c someone from the past decides to regurgitate a very old story that's been settled for years, doesn't mean anyone has to answer new questions.  That's like reading an article from a newspaper in the mid-90s saying, "boy this Clinton fella has some new questions to answer."  Well, no he doesn't.  It's long been debated and settled.  You're telling ghost stories at this point.Saban was actually responsible for cleaning up LSU sports academically.  He was single-handedly responsible for their academic center...according to the story, the problem was cleaned up, a new academics center was built, supervision of athete's academics was tightened up, and graduation rates for football players all rose while Saban was the HC.


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Interested observer 

If you really don't believe Saban will be asked about this... you have no idea of the world you live in.  He may not answer it, but he will be asked about the situation and Emmert.



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