America’s Game!

A song of praise for NFL football.

The grunting, juddering, anti-flow of the broader game, the rote brutality and steak-headed backwardness of the action at the play-by-play level, the sudden blundering intrusion of all those honking commercials — for achingly sincere domestic macro-pilsners, for strapping trucks and their loud and swaggering drive-train warranties, for extremely emotional insurance companies and also weirdly ironic insurance companies — at every stoppage of play. In the most basic sense this is just what the average NFL game is, but more worrying for the lords of the league, it is also a description of what is an objectively not-great television show — one with the queasy pacing of rush-hour traffic, the jarring violence of a car accident, and the fuddy legalism of traffic court, and that somehow manages to be three hours long.

… In recent years, [these sorts of] games, resembling out-of-body experiences, have become worryingly common. The sudden glut of ultra-shitty games probably isn’t the greatest long-term problem facing the sport, but it’s also the most obvious and inescapable challenge to all the solemn covenant-pageantry of the NFL; it’s hard to civically sanctify the experience of being bored.

… The league’s signature corruptions have unmistakably diminished both the quality of the games and the broader health of the sport; things just can’t go on this way.


UD thanks Dirk.

Separated at Birth

Margaret Atwood and…

George Washington.

On the cherry tree that fell down …

… in the 2012 derecho…

… turkey tail fungus.

La Kid, Looking Fetching and Cold This Morning…

… in front of Prague.

“In order to recruit talent that did not meet academic requirements, [University of Northern Colorado Coach BJ] Hill was signing up for online education courses, and completing them himself.”

UD‘s been telling you for years about the spectacular synergy between online courses and filthy university sports programs. When it comes to anonymous online courses, it’s so easy to fall in love! It’s so easy to fall in love! It’s so easy (so easy) … yeah yeah yeah its so easy (so easy).. yeah yeah yeah…

The best headline of hundreds so far on the grand jury report about manslaughtering frats at Penn State…

… comes from this Penn State student-run blog:

Grand Jury Appalled At University Marketing Of ‘Fun, Party Atmosphere’

For that’s the real story. Other news outlets are content to quote high-voltage words and terms from the “scathing” report on the lurid, protracted, public, death of frat pledge Timothy Piazza: fraternities are a cancer; Penn State showed shocking apathy in regard to large groups of sadists on its campus.

The Penn State student journalists correctly focus on the cold calculation schools like Penn State and West Virginia (read this; it tells you all you need to know about the death of Piazza) make – to market their schools as almost nothing other than places to drink and go to football games.

Quoting from Karen Weiss, a WVU sociologist, here.

[T]he party school is itself a business, and alcohol is part of the business model. Schools lure students to attend their schools with the promise of sports, other leisure activities and overall fun. Part of this fun, whether schools like it or not, is drinking. Thus, even as university officials want to keep students safe, they also need to keep their consumers happy.

Of course, we could adopt, for the frats, the same model we adopt for university football. We could say that every year we will sacrifice the mind and body of a certain number of our players for the sake of everyone’s amusement. We could say that every year we will kill a certain number of our frat pledges for the sadistic pleasure of people who’ve chosen to attend our school in order to enjoy sadistic pleasure. Party schools could try being honest, and just saying Football’s a violent sport; some fraternities house gangs of sadists. We think a few student brain injuries and deaths each year represents a small price to pay to keep our enrollment numbers steady.

Ya gotta admit: The University of Louisville is Great Copy.

[Former University of Louisville AD Tom] Jurich has been stung by the backlash that came along with his dismissal, but he owes it to a remarkable tolerance [at UL] for scandal. Rehiring tainted football coach Bobby Petrino in 2014 dented the school’s reputation, as did the multiple issues with [Rick] Pitino’s personal life and basketball program. Fixated on justifying Louisville’s inclusion in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Jurich was willing to take all the hits to the school’s image in exchange for on-field competitiveness.

… But now the school that compensated [Jurich and Pitino] at the very highest levels of their professions wants to blame the employees rather than itself for the current chaotic state of the department. Pitino was the active wrongdoer; we simply gave him more power than a third-world dictator. Jurich amassed too much clout; maybe because we paid him $5.3 million in 2016, more than the entire budget of the English, Math, Biology and History departments.

… Everyone needs a boss, and neither Pitino nor Jurich were adequately bossed in recent years. Former school president James Ramsey was busy arranging stealth sweetheart deals for himself and other university leaders (including Jurich), which helped lead to his ouster. The Board of Trustees was a rubber stamp. Lacking adequate oversight, the whole thing spun out of control.

And so we reach a point where the University of Louisville blames Pitino, and Pitino blames [his underlings] Andre McGee and Jordan Fair, and we’re supposed to believe that this institution led by wealthy and powerful alpha males was brought down by the sorcery of a former director of basketball operations and a first-year assistant coach. Call it trickle-up corruption.

The bit at the end about the alpha males is interesting… Is there even one woman at UL? As Fanny Dashwood would put it —

I declare, I am beginning to doubt of her existence!

The University of Arizona’s Domestic Abuse Hall of Fame has Just Grown By Another Inductee!

Ever since they hired one of the ickiest coaches this great country has to offer, UA’s football team has been hitting all of its marks (er, girlfriends) one after another, making a real name for itself in a crowded national domestic abuse field.

Scottie Young Jr… . Orlando Bradford… And as UA can attest, you don’t get there without a certain kind of coach, and teammates who watch it happen and don’t give a shit!

Newly released records from the Tucson Police Department reveal statements from witnesses and victims, stating a former University of Arizona Wildcats football player’s roommates and teammates were aware of, but did not report, violent incidents.

… Witness statements claim Bradford’s roommates, Arizona Wildcats football players, saw the abuse and heard threats of violence but never reported the behavior.

One of the witnesses recounted a February 2016 incident which alleged[ly] happened in Bradford’s vehicle. The witness said Bradford, one of the victims, a female witness and a UA football player were in the vehicle.

The witness told the TPD the victim said something to Bradford, which angered him.

“Bradford exited the vehicle, opened the door and slid the seat forward,” according to the report. “He grabbed the victim by the hair, pulled her from the vehicle and threw her on the ground.”

The witness also said Bradford, on several occasions, had “gone crazy, verbally yelling and screaming” at one of the victims and “threatened to kill her.”

According to the witness’ reports, Bradford would hit the victim “in front of the guys” and named the four football players who lived in the house.

A witness, who police said was in a relationship with one of Bradford’s roommates, heard that Bradford was, “telling everyone in the locker room what he had done (to the victim) and was joking about it.”

Sing It: In the Christmas Spirit at University Diaries


‘Come,’ they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum:
‘Your dorm has whores for free.’
Pa rum pum pum pum.
‘You’ll play at KFC.
It’s facing bankruptcy.
Pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum

After bribery
Pa rum pum pum pum
We lived in luxury
Pa rum pum pum pum
They brought their gifts to me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Rick’s boys took care of me
And we all kept mum
We all played dumb
Rum pum pum pum

Feds came to talk to me
Pa rum pum pum pum
‘Bout our conspiracy
Pa rum pum pum pum
UL told Rick to flee
Pa rum pum pum pum
He sued, and they sued he
And everyone’s scum
Shitting their bum
Rum pum pum pum

Yes, I played for you
Pa rum pum pum pum
Feel a bit dumb

Honest, and beautifully rendered testimony…

… about addiction and death, from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s widow.

[A]fter the fifth person suggested I should start running [to deal with my grief], I lost it. “I don’t want to fucking run,” I said. “I want to jump in the river and kill myself.”

When I finally did decide to run, it was always at night by the Hudson. The darker and rainier it was, the more violent the water, the better. I couldn’t get enough. Something about the extremity of it, the closeness to death, was weirdly comforting. If I wanted to jump, it was there.

What got me out of bed every morning and kept me alive, of course, were my kids. I had no choice: They needed me, and I loved them more than anything in the world. I would hit moments when I felt, I’m done. I’m so done, but then I’d see their faces, and right away it would become, OK. I can do this today. They were keenly aware that I was now their only parent, and Willa, my youngest, obsessed about it, asking, “If you die, how are people going to know how to find us?”

‘[The University of Louisville basketball team] was a kind of Potemkin Village, not so much elevating the university as hiding it. Louisville was a commuter school with a reputation so lackluster that a professor once told the Courier-Journal, “When I have a really first-class undergraduate, I tell them to transfer.”’

A Potemkin Village is “a pretentiously showy or imposing façade intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition.” The three Bloomberg writers who make this comparison – it appears in a long piece summarizing the ongoing national basketball scandal, which they call “the worst since college basketball players were caught shaving points for gamblers in the 1950s” – mean to suggest, I guess, that the glitzy University of Louisville basketball team masked whatever there was of the shabby non-basketball University of Louisville.

It’s quite a statement. Can we have gotten to the point where we’re not a tad astonished by it?

I mean, yes, one remembers the witty president of the University of Oklahoma back in the ‘fifties telling a senator he wanted to “build a university our football team can be proud of.” More recently, the president of Ohio State, “asked whether the school had considered firing embattled coach Jim Tressel, … said: ‘No. Are you kidding? Let me just be very clear. I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.'” One has no trouble imagining how the puling little president of the University of Alabama feels about his stature vis-à-vis Nick Saban. And of course we know how the leadership of Penn State felt about that… curious couple, Sandusky and Paterno. Going to jail for them was a small price to pay.



And does the analogy really work? For after all, as is the way with many big-time athletic programs, there was never a clear separation between the shabby embarrassing academic UL and the rich degenerate basketball UL. The squalor of college sports spreads itself all over the campus – literally, as in the way the University of Georgia campus for a long time looked the morning after big games; and figuratively, as in the establishment of a house of prostitution in a UL dorm for players, recruits, and the fathers of recruits.

It’s not really that you’ve got on the one hand the glitzy sports program and on the other the hidden humiliating university. The whole thing tends toward looking like the Calais Jungle.

‘When more than $16 million can be spent to fire one athletic director and one coach — and the total goes up again when you consider assistant coaches had a year left on their contract — there is a need for transparency.’

Ah, shaddap. This is Arkansas. No one gives a shit.

Something’s happening here, and you know what it is, don’t you, Mr. Jones?

Lawdy. Finally some amazingly good news. UD has already begun planning her vacation to Alabama this summer. My way of saying THANK YOU.


Jose Maria Marin, the 85-year-old former president of the Brazilian football federation, is out on bail during the [FIFA] trial and is living under house arrest at his $3.5 million apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

‘The surreal landscape of Ukraine’s higher education features hundreds of national universities, while not having a single university listed in any reputable world university ranking. This is because universities are not ranked by their corruptness.’

UD knows you have been waiting with anticipation equal to hers for the further adventures of university rector Petro Melnyk. To refresh your memory:

The former dean of the National Tax University in Irpin (Kyiv oblast) was arrested in July 2013, allegedly while receiving a bribe of 120 thousand UAH. He was placed under house arrest on Aug 1 that year, but escaped, after removing his electronic bracelet. He was in hiding in the USA until April 1, 2014 when he was arrested at Boryspil Airport on his arrival from London. The initially hefty 30 million UAH bail was reduced by the court to 600 thousand UAH and Melnyk was released from custody soon after that second arrest.

Melnyk was tried by the Irpin City Court, in the same town where he has business interests. The trial dragged on for an entire year and ended in his acquittal on July 9, 2015, with the court finding that there was ‘not enough proof’ that the 120 thousand UAH he was alleged to have received was not a ‘donation’.

In short, Petro didn’t have to run away at all! Acquittal was waiting for him all the time in his neighborhood court.

The acquittal was eventually overturned, though nothing bad has happened to Petro, who is busy selling off all of his university’s buildings to his family. He was just acquitted of that, too.

A court in the Kyiv oblast has acquitted Petro Melnyk, the former Head of Ukraine’s National Tax Service University, finding “no proof of a crime” in Melnyk’s sale of four buildings belonging to the university to a company founded by his wife, son and father-in-law.

… While finding that “the university” had sold the four pieces of real estate to the ‘Inter-regional Finance and Law Academy’ with infringements of procedure for selling state property, the court declined to find Melnyk himself guilty of embezzlement or squandering of property through abuse of his official position (Article 191 § 5 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code). It rejected the prosecution’s assertion that the property had been knowingly under-priced and said it had seen no proof that Melnyk had himself, or via others, had any influence on the price. This is despite accepting that the initiative to sell the property had come from Melnyk as the Dean. The argument was that the sale was agreed “by an organized conference of the staff unanimously”. Melnyk in court denied that he had known during the tender that the company founded by his wife and son was seeking to buy the property.

The court also rejected a civil suit brought by the university for compensation of 33,44 million UAH damages.

This is the value that the investigation established the properties were worth. Melnyk’s relatives paid only a third of that price – 10,87 million UAH.

The four large pieces of property were sold in 2007-08 by auction to the ‘Inter-regional Finance and Law Academy’, whose founders include Melnyk’s wife Tetyana Melnyk; his son Maksym and father-in-law Volodymyr Shcherban. Melnyk’s nephew Roman Melnyk ran the company.

Virtually all the items of property were subsequently let to the university.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE





It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
Professor Mondo

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte