Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

College Sports' Bad Season

August 30, 2003

When the prestigious Knight Commission weighed in on reforms for collegiate athletics just two years ago, its major concerns were athletes' low graduation rates, bloated athletic department operating budgets and the growing commercialization of college sports. Now regulators can add murder, suicide and criminal cover-ups to that list.

Baylor University held a memorial Thursday for basketball player Patrick Dennehy, who, police say, was killed by a teammate. Worse for the world's largest Baptist university are charges that Dave Bliss -- the since-resigned basketball coach -- asked assistants and players to lie to detectives investigating Dennehy's death. He allegedly urged them to besmirch the dead player by whispering that he had paid his tuition by dealing drugs. A Baylor lawyer termed Bliss "a desperate man trying to figure out how to cover himself and to cover up" his National Collegiate Athletic Assn. recruiting violations.

At St. Bonaventure University in western New York, instead of a welcoming Mass on Monday there was the burial of William Swan, the Catholic school's chairman. Authorities say he's the latest victim of a scandal that began when the school recruited a player who had only a welding certificate, not a junior college degree. The president, athletic director and basketball coach resigned or were fired. Police are investigating Swan's death as a suicide and say he left a note expressing regret for letting down his alma mater.

NCAA schools pledge to protect 360,000 student-athletes by adhering to the strictest standards of integrity. The NCAA should first ensure that its coaches meet the rules.

In recent months, basketball coach Jim Harrick resigned at Georgia for making improper payments and allowing academic fraud. Washington fired football coach Rick Neuheisel for betting. Alabama dismissed football coach Mike Price for dropping hundreds of dollars on strippers. Iowa State University fans were shocked to see published photos of basketball coach Larry Eustachy partying with students.

Myles Brand, the Indiana University president who stood up to and fired basketball bad boy Bobby Knight, became NCAA president Jan. 1 with a promise to reform collegiate athletics. He got a boost earlier this month: an NCAA study debunking the myth that in collegiate athletics, "bigger is better." The study determined that $1 spent on athletics generates just $1 in revenue; winning helps little in recruiting top students.

That said, universities are supposed to be institutions of higher learning, not schools for sports scandal, right? It's time for scholars to take back campuses from debauched jocks or see their academic credibility wither. They also should turn away from alumni, coaches and administrators who foolishly want to win at all costs.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|