The Jim Tressel story at Ohio State is a sad but not uncommon story of unchecked power, ego-driven actions, a win-at-all-costs (WAAC) mentality, and lack of presidential control in intercollegiate athletics.
In the case of Tressel, you can add hypocrisy. Here’s a guy who made a concerted effort to create an image of a moral icon, yet who’s actions have too often belied that carefully crafted image. He authored books with the titles: “The Winner’s Manual: For the Game of Life” and “Life Promises for Success: Promises From God on Achieving Your Best.”
In actuality, his “winner’s manual” could be summed up in one credo: Do whatever it takes to win (and preserve your image).
This isn’t Tressel’s first slip-up. Under Tressel’s watch, Ohio State has had to deal with NCAA problems surrounding its football program in the past. Tressel also got into trouble with the NCAA while coaching at Youngstown State.
Ohio State’s president, Gordon Gee, provided an indication of the warped priorities on campus when the Tressel allegations first surfaced. When asked if Tressel was in trouble, Gee said, “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me,” said Gee.
While meant to be funny, Gee’s comment also points to the lack of presidential control at big-time college sports factories. Until intercollegiate athletics are treated as part of the educational mission of the university — and athletes are treated like other students on campus — commercialization and professionalization abuses will continue.
A good place for Gordon Gee to start as he begins to clean-up his football program is the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics’ Statement of Principles.
Mr. Gee should pay especially close attention to principle number two: “The responsibility and authority for the administration of the athletics department, including all basic policies, personnel and finances, are vested in the president.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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