“The letter also called for … the creation of a committee that would vet potential new Corporation members.”

Yikes. Brown University couldn’t have that. Student input on Corporation membership would almost certainly have vetoed Steven Cohen and Steven Rattner.


UD thanks Roy.

The polite, incredulous Brown Daily News continues to cover the filth-accumulating career of the university’s highest-profile trustee.

What else can it do about the ongoing reign of trustee and national disgrace Steven Cohen? What other attitude can the student editors bring to its university’s leadership closing ranks around this man?

One of America’s great universities apparently means to wait until the head of the world’s dirtiest hedge fund is personally sent to jail.

[T]he threat of further criminal action still looms…


The policy of Brown University in the matter of Trustee Steven Cohen can be summarized by paraphrasing Robert Emmet.

When my trustee takes his place among the jailbirds of the earth, then and only then let his epitaph be written.

“Mr. Cohen, whose enormous compensation and conspicuous consumption have made him an emblem of the new Gilded Age, has not been charged criminally. Still, the plea deal is a devastating blow to Mr. Cohen, as the firm that bears his initials will acknowledge that it was a corrupt organization.”

Brown University’s finest.

Steven Cohen remains on Brown’s board of trustees, an inspiring reminder to students there that you can run “the first large Wall Street firm in a generation to confess to criminal conduct,” a firm whose corruption is “unprecedented in the history of hedge funds,” a firm that has become “a symbol of financial wrongdoing,” and still be a Brown University trustee! Go ahead and be HUMongous financial wrongdoers, kiddies! The more money you make, the more likely you’ll be named to the Brown Corporation!

How humongous, you ask? The man’s a fucking pioneer! He’s making history! The SEC, emboldened by its success against Cohen, is said to be going after a number of other university trustees and honorary degree recipients.

[The SEC is] weighing a criminal charge against JPMorgan Chase [headed by Syracuse University commencement speaker/honorary degree recipient Jamie Dimon] related to its role as Bernard L. Madoff’s [Yeshiva University trustee] banker…


UPDATE: MattF, a UD reader, links to this important background on Cohen. UD thanks him.

Brown University’s Highest-Profile Trustee: An Update

[Steven] Cohen’s fund, SAC Capital Advisors, has reached a deal with the government to plead guilty to securities fraud.

That simple sentence, in today’s New York Times, says it all.

One of this nation’s great Ivy League universities has cleaved to and passionately defended its highest-profile trustee, Steven Cohen, ever since people began asking why this massive cheater, this embodiment of everything that’s wrong with America’s rancid hedge funds, sits in a position of influence and respect on a great university’s board of trustees.

If this were Yeshiva University, currently seeking trustee replacements for Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin, UD could understand. But although Brown’s last president was one of the Goldman Sachs trustees who approved Lloyd Blankfein’s breath-taking bonuses, it has not, until now, looked like ridiculously corrupt YU.

And speaking of Merkin: UD can only assume Cohen is consulting with him on how to unload your art when your stink bomb of an investment fund implodes. Today’s New York Times article on Cohen is mainly about his having to sell some of his more significant pieces to pay off the billion plus fines he’s got coming from the SEC. Which brings back memories of Merkin – also pursued for hundreds of millions by all sorts of private and government entities – dismantling his Rothko room.

It’s a poignant picture for sure – these art lovers sitting among the ruins of their collections while awaiting the collection agents from the government. But while Merkin has lost his university trusteeship, Cohen still sits among those women and men tasked with the moral welfare of one of America’s most prominent sites of higher learning. At least he’s got that.

How dare the Minnesota Post write …

this! After all, Zygi is trustee of a university! A religious university!

Bobby Lowder Redux

Ed Keller, baseball player for Oklahoma State University back in the day, chairs the board of trustees there… The Board of Trustees! Where have they been during OSU’s long years of academic fraud, pimping of coeds to football recruits, money gifts to players, etc. etc.? What is a board of trustees? What does it do?

Okay, so the best answer to those questions is (see Penn State) nothing and nothing. We know this. Does it bother Yeshiva University that a man just found guilty of massive racketeering is on its board of trustees? Does Brown give a shit that Steve Cohen is on its board of trustees?

The best answer to these questions is no and no. Au contraire, if you’re a sports slut like OSU, you positively want a board of trustees made up of mindless jocks and boosters. In order to get to Number One, your coaches are going to be breaking a lot of rules, and the last thing they need is even one trustee with a conscience.

How do you keep all the trustees in line? If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you know how the thing is done. All BOTs have one really well-connected bully (see Auburn’s Bobby Lowder) who controls everyone else on the board by withholding information, threatening to drop them from the board, whatever. This person takes advantage of the fact that for most university trustees the position is little more than something to boast about rather than a series of meetings one really means to attend, etc. Note that some universities have boards made up of thirty, forty, fifty people. You don’t have to be an expert in organizations to know that these groups are pointless, bootless, bogus.

Sports Illustrated is going after low-hanging fruit like this Okie joke first; expect more such multi-part investigations. And expect, in each case, that at some point someone’s going to say Hey doesn’t this school have a board of trustees? What does the board do?

Answers: Yes. Nothing.

“Why must my sports [news] be saturated with … criminal news?

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary, as Stephen Foster put it. The guy in this post’s title wants to know why he can’t just love his Vikings and not have to think about being one of millions of Minnesota taxpayers who’ve given hundreds of millions of dollars to the team’s racketeering owner, Zygi Wilf.

Zygi is one of Yeshiva University’s most honored trustees. He is part of the Yeshiva University tradition of having its trustees called “evil” by judges. First Bernard Madoff and now Zygi have inspired some of America’s finest jurists to rise to this rhetorical occasion…

(Update: Yeshiva’s main campus is named after the Wilf family. Yikes.)

But back to our headline. Like it or not, your sports news – university sports, professional sports – will always be saturated with – imbricated with (to use an English major word) – criminal news. This being the case, UD proposes that MFA programs at sports factories offer not just instruction in Minimalism, but also instruction in Criminalism, a prose style in which you entertainingly interweave afternoons at the arena with evenings in jail.

There is a good deal to study here. UD has been a student of criminalist prose for years and has accumulated a syllabus-full of methods, approaches, points of view. She’s particularly intrigued by the style she calls Coacha Inconsolata, a mournful account of the sufferings of coaches who through no fault of their own recruited drunks and flunkies to the team and of course to the school. Here’s a very recent example. The trick is to focus not on the totally foreseeable stupidity and criminality of the recruit, but rather on the shocked and hurt coach.

Here are some excerpts, with commentary from Scathing Online Schoolmarm.

U Conn [basketball] center Tyler Olander has put Kevin Ollie in a difficult position … [This is the beginning of the first sentence of the article. Start right off not with the player, but with the coach. It's unseemly to dwell on jailed players -- too many of them, doesn't look good, challenges alumni to keep loving the team -- so dwell rather on the sacrificial agonies of the coaches.] Legendary coach Jim Calhoun had already left Ollie with a underwhelming and thinning front line. Now, calling that front line “thinning” is like a bald man using the comb over. It’s approaching nonexistent. [Next move: Recall the impossibly big shoes into which the coach must step. Legendary Jim! You only have to watch this famous clip to understand how beloved, how amazing, Calhoun was... Poor Ollie! Left only with thinning hair.] Olander was UConn’s only big man left on the roster with any sort of real experience. The Huskies had already lost veteran Enosch Wolf, who had his scholarship taken away for his own legal issues… [If you're not blubbering by this point, you've got a heart of stone. What is this good and great man, this Job of the jocks, supposed to do?]

Just continue like that if you want to write Coacha Inconsolata criminalism: The writer here goes on to talk about the coach’s “major headache,” the way he’s “scrambling” to do a good job, and how “This is not what he had to have in mind when he laid out his plan” for greatness. Do not touch on the question of how it is that anyone entering a major university sports coaching position lays out non-criminogenic plans for greatness. Do not ask how anyone could possibly be that stupid. Just go with the Job thing.

“Yeshiva University failed to act on multiple allegations of sexual abuse made by students until 2001, a report by a law firm hired by the institution said Monday. But the report is skimpy on details because Yeshiva honchos directed the firm to publicize its finding only in summary form.”

The report says the investigative team planned to make public its complete findings on sexual and physical abuse but was directed by a special committee of the Yeshiva board of trustees, “as a result of the pending litigation,” to describe the findings “in summary fashion.”

This direction, as the Yeshiva student newspaper points out, “[casts] doubt on the true independence of the investigation.”


UD decided to pay a visit to those honchos, with their impressive legal delicacy. What manner of man (they’ve recently put some token females on the board), now that it’s lost Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin, sits on Yeshiva University’s board of trustees?

UD decided to choose one name on the list and find out all about him. She chose an unusual name because she wanted to be sure she was getting the right guy. She chose Zygmunt Wilf. How many Zygi Wilfs can there be out there?

Here’s the latest, as of August 5, 2013, on Zygi:

[New Jersey Judge Deanne] Wilson found that Zygmunt Wilf, along with his brother, Mark, and their cousin, Leonard, committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and also violated the state’s civil racketeering statute, or RICO…. Discussing the Wilfs’ misdeeds, Wilson said they failed to meet the “barest minimum” of their responsibilities as business partners. “I do not believe I have seen one single financial statement that is true and accurate…”

Zygi got an honorary doctorate – for “philanthropic values” – from Yeshiva.

Good to know that as Yeshiva University begins the process of dealing with its faculty’s misdeeds, it will have people like Zygi at the controls.


Today’s headline on NPR.

Maybe it’s time for Brown University to revisit its none of your fucking business position on the question of trustee Steven Cohen.

In 2011, Brown University’s Cohen Gallery – a space named for its benefactor…

… trustee Steven A. Cohen – featured an exhibit titled: Move Along, Nothing to See Here.

What Brown University is currently exhibiting – institutional indifference to the university’s continued association with le très malsain M. Cohen – is a show of the same name: Nothing to see here. Steve’s our guy, SEC be damned.

It’s been months now that we’ve known Cohen’s scandalous firm to be insider trading central; but, well, as a commenter on the latest Brown Daily Herald article writes:

Why would it affect Cohen’s [trustee] status? Steve Rattner gave the family weekend speech in 2012 after being charged in a pay for play scheme by the SEC, and paying huge fines.

Trustee Steve the First! Gone but not forgotten (scroll down). As to the Second: UD understands a university pausing for a very long moment before breaking up with a guy who makes nine hundred million dollars a year in salary. A guy with a personal fortune of around ten billion dollars. UD‘s heart goes out to Brown at this difficult time. Brown must work out a complex moral calculus: Filthy lucre vs. a shred of ethical integrity.

Stay tuned.


As always, UD thanks Roy.

It’s an exciting time to be a Brown University trustee!

Whether Cohen will ultimately face criminal charges, Frenkel said to “look at the example” of Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director charged in the insider trading investigation of Raj Rajaratnam’s Galleon Group. “The SEC brought an administrative action against Gupta,” Frenkel recalled, “and within 30 days, the next thing you know, there’s a criminal indictment.”

Will our highest-profile trustee, Steven Cohen, get hit with criminal, and not just administrative actions? Stay tuned!

We did our own special secret superduper investigation…

… and the SEC is full of shit! They say our guy is an insider trader; but you know what we did? We talked to him, and he said he wasn’t! So hahaha. Shut up!

The Decline of the Wests

Florida Atlantic University, a laughingstock, seems to have decided to do what it can to make itself less ridiculous.

Brown University has Steven A. Cohen; the University of Virginia has…

Halsey Minor.

True, Halsey imploded before UVA could make him, like Cohen at Brown, a trustee. And true, Cohen’s ten billion dollar personal fortune puts Minor – who used to have two billion but is currently bankrupt ($100 million in debts; only $50 million to pay them — we’ve all been there) – to shame. But both men are big presences, big benefactors, at these two universities; and as both men fall apart, the universities look rather like Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, who laments to her sister that humiliation was “forced upon me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hopes.” (In Elinor’s case that would be a romantic rival, while in the present matter we are talking about creditors.)

Now, Cohen is far from bankrupt, but it’s pretty clear that his firm’s way-serious legal problems are emptying his hedge fund a mile a minute; and just as Minor’s pledged twenty-five million dollar gift to UVA seems to have disappeared, I’m thinking that any amazing largesse of that sort Cohen might have been contemplating in relation to Brown is similarly imperiled.

Brown University: Judge Us By the Trustees We Keep.

In late April, lawyers for [Steven A.] Cohen and his firm met with federal prosecutors in Manhattan to make their best case argument about why the hedge fund billionaire and his SAC Capital Advisors should not be charged with criminal wrongdoing. But people familiar with that meeting said the lengthy presentation did not impress federal prosecutors, who are now considering whether to use a racketeering law aimed at prosecuting the Mafia and drug gangs to pursue a criminal case against Cohen’s hedge fund.

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