The Boys from Syracuse

Now that the entirely random (all are called to cheat; few are chosen) Adzillatron of Fortune has swiveled its gigantic screen in the direction of Syracuse University, and now that the nation’s media is riveted to that school (you can’t buy this kind of publicity), it’s time for UD not only to remind you of her way-beyond-legendary column on the subject of professors and big-time sports; it’s also time to put in a word for the ladies.

The guys?  Sure, sure, the guys.  King Coach, the Coach God, with his massive salary and pep talks about character;  the “Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director” (think I’m kidding?  when you’re the absolute bottom of the barrel, you better believe you make your AD a chancellor);  the president of the university, docile, kittenish BFF of his coachly master… We’ve seen this adorable bumbling crowd so many times…

But without the receptionist in the background of all this high-profile bonding, athletes would never be able to stay eligible.  People forget that at schools like Chapel Hill and Syracuse, the entire elaborate system gets sacked and broken like Joe Theismann without those sweethearts over in the corner stamping AAAAAAA all day.

And speaking of Syracuse University…

… (see the post directly below this one), its highest-profile honorary degree recipient, its 2010 commencement speaker, has been running one hell of a public relations campaign. Ask me anything! Ask my bank anything!

These are some of the tweets J.P. Morgan received (before hurriedly shutting the account):

“What’s your favorite type of whale? #AskJPM,” said The Atlantic’s Matt O’Brien.

“Is your “Chief Compliance Officer” alive? Has anyone checked to see if he’s in his office? #AskJPM,” said Salon’s David Dayen.

“Does Jamie Dimon pet a small cat and laugh ominously while he’s ruining poor people’s lives? #AskJPM,” said blogger Tim Donovan.

Some others:

Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?

If it came out Jamie Dimon had a propensity for eating Irish children, would you fire him? What if he’s still “a good earner”?

Is it the ability to throw anyone out of their home that drives you, or just the satisfaction that you know you COULD do it?

How many homeless people did you create in ’08?

Will the firm explore new markets, like selling candy-backed securities to babies w/o disclosing the lack of chocolate in the bonds?

Did you not realize that The Smartest Guys In The Room was a cautionary tale, not a blueprint for mass theft?

Sure. There’s more.

Quick! You’re in a room with no key, a chair, two paper clips, and a lightbulb. How do you defraud investors?

Sorry we ruined your hashtag event, if you could just apologise for your plunder of the global economy, I think we’d be even.

Given the # of reg violations + scale of fines paid across the bank, please explain why the board hasn’t been replaced by livestock?

Enough already!

What’s it like working with Mexican drug cartels? Do they tip?

How do you decide who to foreclose on? Darts or a computer program?

As a young sociopath, how can I succeed in finance?


why did u think this would be a good idea

There’s a reason Mr. Boeheim is the highest paid person at Syracuse University.

It’s because of the intellectual luster he lends the place. Challenged on the pathetic graduation rates of the students for whose progress he’s responsible, he explains:

“If everybody stays, our graduation rate is great… But some guys just don’t stay. If somebody had an answer, I’d love to hear it.”

Boeheim earns close to two million dollars a year for his policy of saying

1. If they would graduate, they would graduate; and

2. Fuck if I know.

The Boys from Syracuse…

… got filmed – it’s alleged – by the director of media for that university’s athletic department – coming out of showers after games.

[He] made the recordings by positioning the camera at waist level and placing a piece of tape over the red light to conceal that it was recording. [Authorities] “quickly discounted” the possibility of that having been done accidentally.

He accidentally placed a camera at waist level hundreds of times?

Yes, I think we can quickly discount that.

Syracuse is Another Hilarious Football Program.

No one goes to the games. The team teems with miscreants. Tons and tons and tons of them, so that the coach just presses this template each time shit goes down — really, always says pretty much verbatim the same thing: We are aware of the charges against X and Y and Z and A and we’ll you know handle it appropriately don’t worry…

So last night two of the guys got drunk and stood in the street shouting fuck this shit and getting arrested and all…

It’s really odd. I mean, maybe UD isn’t getting something here, but — the coach gets millions of dollars to stage games without spectators and, increasingly, without players.

Syracuse University: Pre- and Post-Stabbing Coverage!

We’ve got it all – the article written before the stabbing (one of several fights) at our first basketball event of the season (“We have the best fans in college basketball!”), and the article written after the place was evacuated and the stabbed guy was taken to the hospital (“We were saddened to learn…”).

Students and administration at Syracuse seem to be taking a lot of comfort from the fact that the guy who was stabbed, and the guys in all the other fights (“[The police] received multiple reports of fights breaking out in the concourse areas near the concession stands prior to receiving a report of the stabbing…”), weren’t students, but so what? If your university has created perfect conditions for riots (the event is free and open to the public and being shitfaced is de rigueur), you’re not going to be impervious to the weaponry by virtue of having a student i.d.


The solution won’t be to change the nature of the event. The event recruits fans who will purchase tickets, and the school needs the money. The solution – a familiar one, adding delight to these free-spirited celebrations – will be to turn the arena into a police state.

It’s Syracuse University’s Best Friend Forever, Jamie Dimon.

Commencement speaker, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree — Dimon’s the Joe Paterno of Syracuse. Let’s catch up with his latest accomplishment.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) had already lost more than $700 million on synthetic credit bets and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon was told that number could climb to almost $1 billion when he dismissed press reports about the positions in April as a “tempest in a teapot.”

While JPMorgan booked a $718 million loss on the positions held by its chief investment office in the first quarter, it didn’t publicly specify the loss when releasing the results April 13. When an analyst asked Dimon that day about media coverage of the trades, he dismissed them as a minor issue.

Friday Night in Syracuse!


Sure, Syracuse University Students Have to Stage Protests to Force the University to Keep Books …

in the library. But at least they have a multimillion-dollar football coach whose games no one comes to see.

Syracuse University is Committed to Diversity.

But if students from another university are within striking range, our students will attack them.

Eh. UD’s a bit overwhelmed, lately, by our …

… great big dirty world (quoting Randy Newman in this beautiful song). That’s why I’ve been posting somewhat less than usual.

But so what. I’m not blogging in order to share with you my distress that

globalization has allowed the capital and assets of the rich to travel more freely than those of everyone else. The result is rampant tax avoidance, labor offshoring and a class of elites that flies 35,000 feet over the problems of nations and their taxpayers. “The 1% can move anywhere they want and profit handsomely from the relocation,” says Peter Atwater, a behavioral economist. “But the 99% are left with the aftermath – the empty buildings of a deserted Detroit, the toxic waste from chemical plants in West Virginia or the unsustainable tax liabilities of Puerto Rico.”

Back in the mid-‘nineties, Christopher Lasch wrote a book whose title says it all: The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy.

To an alarming extent the privileged classes – by an expansive definition, the top 20 percent – have made themselves independent not only of crumbling industrial cities but of public services in general. They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies by enrolling in company-supported plans, and hire private security guards…. In effect, they have removed themselves from the common life. It is not just that they see no point in paying for public services they no longer use. Many of them have ceased to think of themselves as Americans in any important sense, implicated in America’s destiny for better or worse. Their ties to an international culture of work and leisure – of business entertainment, information, and ‘information retrieval’ – make many of them deeply indifferent to the prospect of American national decline.

Two decades later, it’s all much worse. Around $36 trillion has been taken from a world of suffering people. That’s almost as much as Harvard University’s endowment.


And when UD thinks of little Delaware! Delaware, whose sweet flat little soybean fields she greets each summer on her way to Rehoboth Beach! Sweet flat little Delaware!

Mr Obama likes to cite Ugland House, a building in the Cayman Islands that is officially home to 18,000 companies, as the epitome of a rigged system. But Ugland House is not a patch on Delaware (population 917,092), which is home to 945,000 companies, many of which are dodgy shells.

Delaware, whose state tourism slogan, Endless Discoveries, is now Endless Justice Department Discoveries …


No, no, she’s not blogging to burden you with her boohoohoo over this great big dirty world. She’s blogging to share magazine articles with titles like


She’s blogging to express admiration for the honesty about America’s universities that appears in this article:

To the NCAA, [academic fraud at the University of North Carolina is] a scandal, but to North Carolina and the athletes who took part, this was very obviously the right thing to do, a way of meeting scam requirements with scam action… By now, reasonable people see the NCAA’s insistence on the “college” side of college as a prerequisite for playing revenue sports as a mean-spirited scam — one bigger and more institutionalized than anything UNC is accused of doing. Academic fraud, in this case, is just what you call not keeping up appearances to the satisfaction of the people profiting off the scam….

The NCAA may well come down hard on North Carolina here, because that’s its role in this comic opera. UNC was playing their role to a T — the system as it is incentivizes exactly this behavior — until they went a little too far and made the “student-athlete” concept look the charade it is. In practice, the cheaters aren’t the programs that commit academic fraud. (Every major program does it to an extent, but one which keeps them from getting caught, which is what the NCAA prefers.) The cheaters are the programs that don’t even bother with the pretense that higher education is anything other than a cartel-imposed hoop to jump through.

Fuck the NCAA, and fuck anyone else who insists on forcing college upon kids who don’t want it just so their own paychecks can be bigger by dint of not paying the people who actually bring in the money. If UNC committed academic fraud, it was in the service of the reasonable, even noble, cause of letting athletes who wanted to do so focus on athletics. It’s merely an accident of history that college is in any way connected to amateur sports, and it’s time to start applauding the big-time programs that have found ways to take the academics out of college.

Damn straight. Whether it’s an international $36 trillion scam or a scam in the billions that’s turned some of our once-reputable universities into big fat jokes, we need to face up to it. We need to know absolutely everything we can about it. We need to be absolutely honest about it.

If we can’t do anything about it – and UD certainly thinks the trillion dollar one is unfixable – we need to figure out other ways to show the heavens slightly more just.

If we can do something about it – and we can definitely do something about the NCAA and the big-sport schools – we should fight. In particular, we should fight for the absolute decoupling of universities and big-money sports programs.


America’s FIFA.

Life of the Mind, USA

Jalen Rose, on an ESPN podcast, said that such “bachelorette parties” are vital to the recruiting process. “As a 17-year-old, if I’m not getting (serviced), I’m not coming,” he said, pointing out that he visited UNLV, Syracuse and Michigan and “you know where I went (Michigan).”

“A feeling of sleaziness hangs in the air.”

How to approach the delicate topic of football culture and the gifts it has given the American university? It’s not merely the obvious stuff – the pointless stupid scary violence that scads of sports heroes like Richie Incognito bring to campus (idle Google Newsing turns up the latest helmet-bashing-in-the-campus-locker-room, this one at the University of Delaware, where last February another player “was charged with assaulting three other students at a party.”).

This violence has turned professors into police:

Days after the incident, [an Oregon State student who got beaten by team members] said that one of his professors noticed several football players milling outside the door of a classroom and the professor told him to exit through a different door because she was afraid they were going to harass him.

The violence is hard-wired, of course, into the coaching of both university football and basketball, so that on a routine basis latter-day Bobby Knights are filmed and parodied (start at 1:15). The coaches are quickly replaced, sometimes by women, who are symbolically part of the clean-up routine cuz you know women just want to mother the team and would never be violent…

In fact, let’s pause there and think about the incredibly important role of women in big-time university sports. I don’t mean merely as tools of recruitment (several schools attract players via, er, dates with carefully selected female students), and objects of rape, assault, and harassment (see, most recently, the Norwood Teague unpleasantness at the University of Minnesota). And I don’t mean merely the importance of trotting out mom, post-assault, on Good Morning America. (Or, as Matt Hayes puts it, “GMA’s utterly repulsive decision to allow De’Andre Johnson on television to apologize for punching a woman in the face.”)

I mean, think about Donna Shalala’s tenure as president of Miami University. Her main role was as cover for a team that got in big on-field brawls and whose best buddy was Nevin Shapiro. She was like the Good Morning America mom times a hundred. They kept wheeling Shalala out to apply the back of her hand to her naughty charges, and this routine actually worked for a while.


A local commentator asks incredulously where the University of Minnesota found the likes of Teague (the answer is that they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a search firm). “Were the other finalists Bill Cosby and Donald Sterling?”

Donald Sterling, Zygi (“bad faith and evil motive”) Wilf, these are the guys who give professional basketball and football such a great name… And, as the commentator suggests, there’s not a lot of discernible difference between professional and big-time university football. Even in the matter of violence, there’s the NFL…

In the N.F.L., … fits of violence hardly blacklist players chasing roster spots. The day after punching [Geno] Smith, [Ikemefuna] Enemkpali latched on with the Buffalo Bills, whose new coach, Rex Ryan, has created a haven for wayward players…

(What a sweet, Victorian, girly way of putting it! A haven for wayward players! Like Ikemefuna’s teammate, the aforementioned Richie Incognito! The way Jane Addams created a haven for wayward girls! SWEET.)

… and there’s college ball, where getting kicked out for violence means the same thing it meant for Ikemefuna – you just find another team.

All of which is why, as UD has often recommended, universities with big-time football need football coaches, not academics, as presidents. (See Jim Tressel.) In a pinch, a politician will do. You could also go with a figurehead, a Queen Elizabeth to Nick Saban’s prime minister. But you’ll keep getting stories like the one coming out of the University of Minnesota as long as you take some guy – some random polite reflective well-meaning university denizen – and hand him the management of what is essentially a professional football team.


The petri dish for university football culture is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Their new field design is all about Vegas. A sample headline:


The team’s field and uniforms now reek of the Strip — it’s glitz, gold, gambling and most importantly, its promise of future fortunes.”

This is a team with one of the worst records in university football. An appalling record. Very few people show up to their games. Season tickets sold last year: 3,890. In response, the university decided to build a $900 million, 55,000 seat stadium with an Adzillatron spanning the length of the field. Although they’ve cut back on that original plan, they’ll surely come up with something like it. And they’ve got yet another miracle coach who’s going to shock everybody with the greatest comeback story this side of Elvis.

“[W]hat happened at SU does not require one minute of Congressional time.”

If this gross miscarriage of justice doesn’t require the concerted attention of our elected representatives, I don’t know what does. UD would like to know what the commenter quoted in my headline thinks is an important use of our government’s time. Here you’ve got one of our nation’s great men, a great coach, dragged through the mud by some rogue organization…

Representative Katko is worried that Syracuse University’s fate raises “serious concerns that the NCAA standards are not applied in a uniform fashion nationwide.” Since virtually all big-time sports programs do what SU does, UD agrees with the congressman; but he needs to think about the logistical problems involved in suspending or shutting down all of America’s competitive basketball and football programs. To say nothing of what this will do to national morale.

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