NCAA, college basketball muddied by crises at tournament time


The Final Four is upon us, and so are the rampant ethical and abusive ways of some in the high-stakes, big-money, “academic” world of NCAA college basketball.

As my EMA Partner Rick Lyke sent the litany of crises:

ESPN video of Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice, right, abusing players at practices.

PAC 12 referees swinging games with foul calls and the head ref going after Arizona’s coach.

New Mexico Coach Steve Alford leaving for UCLA days after agreeing to 10-year contract extension.

Makes you long for the innocent days when Bobby Knight just threw chairs.

And those are just the abuses made public. While these events are not as bad as the FBI charging two New York politicians yesterday with trying to rig the upcoming New York City mayor’s race, they create a black eye in the days before college basketball’s premier event, the Final Four.

Especially at this time of year, CBS does its best to elevate coaches and players to exalted status. But everyone knows that for all the glitz and glamour, college basketball, like NCAA football, is a giant money game. Whenever there are millions at stake — for schools and coaches, not most players — corruption enters.

These crises will have to be handled individually and so far they don’t seem to be going well for any of the parties. Did Rutgers hire Rice without any clue that he was abusive to players? Or was it so anxious to rise in the Big East, college basketball’s premier if disintegrating conference, that its athletic director and president looked the other way?

New Mexico v HarvardDid Alford, right, think that a 10-year contract extension he signed was worth nothing? What’s he going to tell UCLA players who miss class, or take $100 from a booster for a meal? Can he even spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e? What does the UCLA athletic director think about Alford’s word and sense of ethics about the contract he signed there?

Obviously, there are multiple schools and coaches getting this right, yet we have to wonder how many actually are.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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