The Vanderbilt Athletic Model Could Save Penn State

If you are looking for one of the best examples of irony in the sausage factory that is big-time college athletics, go directly to Gordon Gee, bow-tied president of THE Ohio State University and a quotation machine. In the spring of 2011, when it became clear that then-Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel had covered up his knowledge of players’ trading memorabilia for cash and prizes, Gee was asked whether he intended to fire Tressel. Read more »

3 Ways to Save Football

In a 1905 article in McClure’s Magazine, investigative reporter Henry Beach Needham, wrote a sensational article detailing the excesses of college athletics. Among them were a win-at-all-costs attitude, payments made to players, institutional profiteering and a cavalier attitude toward rules that resulted in the serious injury and sometimes death of its participants. Read more »

Junior Seau Killed Football

Junior Seau didn’t just commit suicide last week. He probably killed football itself.

Now, to be sure, both pro and college teams will take the field next fall, and they’ll do so in packed stadiums and to awesome TV ratings. The death Seau inflicted on his sport won’t work quite as fast as the bullet he put in his own chest—football is simply too popular and profitable to disappear overnight. It will take years, and perhaps decades. But it is coming.

And for good reason. Football—it seems abundantly clear now—kills its players. And as Seau’s death may yet prove, it even kills its biggest and brightest stars. Read more »

How Yale Screwed Up a Sexual Assault Complaint

Back in September, I wrote in the magazine about the problems posed for colleges and universities by the Department of Education’s new rules governing how they must respond to allegations of sexual assault. Over the weekend, those chickens came home to roost, big-time, as the news spread that Yale University quarterback Patrick Witt had been accused of sexual assault. Read more »

Tim Tebow, Could You (or God) Arrange This?

It was just an offhand comment from one of the announcers for the Alabama/LSU BCS National Championship Game last Monday—the game in which the Tide defense didn’t let the Tiger offense past the 50-yard line until deep in the fourth quarter. The announcer was talking about walking alongside some of the players on the Tigers’ offensive line. They were big, he said—big enough, he thought, to hold their own against the New Orleans Saints.

My husband Doug looked at me from his rocking chair, one eyebrow inching up. “You know,” he said thoughtfully. Read more »

Andrew Luck for Heisman

I spent a quality 15 minutes as a guest on the radio in Dallas Friday night, listening to a New Yorker–the indefatigable Arnie Spanier–try to convince me (frankly, Arnie harangued me, as is his style) that I just HAD to cast my Heisman vote for Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. Griffin had propelled the previously lowly Bears to eight wins (they would pick up number nine the next day against Texas) and done so spectacularly, mixing the ability to run (644 yards, 9 TDs) and pass (3,998 yards, 36 TDs, 72.4% completion success) into a rare concoction. Arnie made it sound that I would be downright un-American if I so much as considered, much less voted for, any other candidate. Read more »

Al Golden’s Miami Conundrum

Al Golden can’t win for winning. Today’s Inquirer has an article citing the terror of University of Miami football fans that the former Temple football coach will ask to have his five-year contract truncated.

Why would Al Golden do such a thing? Well, because he walked into a total shitstorm at Miami, whose higher-ups inexplicably claim they were completely unaware that the NCAA was investigating the school’s intimate relationship with a felonious booster named Nevin Shapiro, who, while he was racking up a $900 million Ponzi scheme (for which he’s now in jail), dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on Miami football players and recruits, including such swag as jewelry, an abortion, and bounties for hurting opposing players. Go, ’Canes! Read more »

College Football Is Being Destroyed By Greed

College football is killing itself. The game is collapsing under the weight of widespread university greed. The drive to make more and more money is resulting in a seismic realignment of the football conferences, which is creating more confusion and less interest in the game. The latest shift came this week as Syracuse and Pittsburgh said they would leave the Big East for the ACC. The news came the same day the driving force behind the Big East, Dave Gavitt, died. In many respects, the Big East is dead as well. Read more »

What Ohio State Can Learn from Penn (and Harvard and Yale…)

“The fundamental difference between intercollegiate football and professional football is that in college, the players are supposed to be students first and foremost.” — Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, President, Notre Dame (1954)

Father Hesburgh is still living, although recent kidney surgery has prevented him from continuing his tireless work in the community on behalf of the needy. That’s what happens when you reach your 94th birthday; the body begins to give out a little.

While advocating for the poor over the past 20-plus years, Hesburgh has no doubt observed a rapid movement away from his philosophical stance. Truth be told, the sport had been at odds with Hesburgh’s sentiments for decades before he made the proclamation. Even his esteemed university was known for occasional rules bending when it came to the relative importance of football versus academics. (See Gipp, George.) Read more »

Lesson from the Jim Tressel Affair: Follow the Tattoos

The latest scandal at Ohio State that forced the resignation of Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel is a further rationale on why college players shouldn’t be paid.

Yes, I said it and I know what you’re thinking: But Mike, shouldn’t you have the opposite view? Wouldn’t paying student-athletes at major sports revenue-producing schools actually eliminate illegal payments on the side? And to that view, I laugh heartily. Read more »

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