By Ken Reed

The latest episode of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” has a segment on abusive coaching practices in the NCAA.

In the segment, Dr. Ben Tepper, from Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, is interviewed. Tepper has made the study of abusive leadership in the workplace his specialty. He is the creator of the Tepper Scale, an abusive supervisor questionnaire used by numerous companies and industries.

Tepper has studied industries such as the military, health care, financial institutions, education and manufacturing. The levels of abuse in those industries are all pretty similar. However, when he studied NCAA college athletics, he found leadership abuse in college sports was significantly higher than any other industry.

Tepper was shocked when he first saw the data on college athletics.

“My first reaction was I’m not reading the data right. It had to be a mistake. We’re talking two to three times higher than any other industry. … It’s just off the charts.”

The reason for the high level of leadership abuse in college sports appears to be the extreme amount of control that college coaches have over their athletes, along with the stress that comes with the pressure to win, and vulnerable athletes with nowhere to turn and no union to support them.

“Abusive behavior only happens when you have the combination of a person in a power position working with someone who is very weak and vulnerable, who can’t really protect themselves,” explains Tepper.

You can find more information on this “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” episode.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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