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Given the # of reg violations + scale of fines paid across the bank, please explain why the board hasn’t been replaced by livestock?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

And:

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.

Gotta be this or …

that.

When figuring out your university’s very own response to the empty stadium problem, don’t you see it’s gotta be one way or the other. You can cater to drunks – collegiate and professional football attracts lots of drunks – and you can have people bring alcohol to the event and you can serve alcohol at the event, etc.

Drunks like to be drunk, so this policy will certainly attract them; but on the other hand you’ve now got … well, let’s have this guy explain why he stopped going to Redskins games.

The tipping point for my decision not to renew came in the opener of the 2010 season, a Sunday night game against the Cowboys. In the middle of the second quarter, nature called and I needed to visit the restroom. As I was walking down from my 15th row seat, a young lady pointing to her pink Tony Romo jersey was blocking the row as her team was driving down the field. I asked her nicely if I could get by, but that just made her clutch the jersey harder and push it toward my face. As I raised my voice in an effort to make her understand my situation, an extra from the cast of Swamp People in a Jason Witten jersey popped up.

“Hey, you gotta problem, buddy?” asked Mr. Bleary Eyes.

“Um… yeah… I want to get out.”

Apparently to him, them’s fightin’ words. As he approached me in my burgundy LaRon Landry jersey, Ms. Pink Romo finally got out of the row to try to settle her man down, and I passed by.

“Stop! It’s not worth it!” I heard her say as I walked away.

But Swamp Witten kept following me. As I reached the mezzanine, his girlfriends’ clutching arms and desperate words finally registered in his addled brain, and they returned to their seats.

Now, I was not afraid. I stand over six feet and weigh 280 pounds. The guy was drunk, and a strong wind could have knocked him over. But I’m a 35-year-old adult, and this was ridiculous. I’ve never had to deal with a drunken fan harassing me in my own living room.

Nothing says university like a stadium bristling with police watching your every move and hauling the royally pissed out of their seats. What to do? You could offer rewards to make sober people attend anyway. You could basically, in other words, pay people to sit next to the drunks. At Syracuse University, whose stadium has the desolate air of a late Samuel Beckett play, a local reporter asks his readership about rewards. Goodies for people who, as he puts it, “behave themselves”?

Judging by the comments, his readers are skeptical.

Marat, we’re poor! And the poor stay poor! Marat, don’t make us wait anymore!

We want our rights! And we don’t care how! We want our revolution… NOW.

Income inequality hits the American university! Sports slaves at Syracuse and Boise State are moving their slow thighs, and what rough beast slouches toward Alabam’ to be born?


Why do they have the friends at the top? Why do they have the jobs at the top?

Boise State’s president rages against the NCAA big boys muscling out mid-major programs like Boise State by making it more and more expensive for schools to compete. In a spectacular instance of the pot calling the kettle black, President Bob Kustra attacks “programs that look less and less like they bear any relationship to the university’s mission and role.”

Ah, mon Kustra! Here’s your school! Here’s your school! Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère! “It seems they are never satisfied with their bloated athletic budgets,” hisses Kustra, whose own budget bulges like an Idaho spud on steroids. Then he gets real high and mighty.

It is sometimes hard to believe that our finest universities and their presidents are behind this effort to fuel what the former NCAA President Myles Brand termed the “arms race” in Division 1 athletic budgets. You would think that the primacy of the academic mission and the long-held principles of amateur athletics would trump the drive toward commercialism and professionalism in the athletic department. You would think that university presidents would be up in arms at the way the NFL and the NBA use the universities’ athletic departments as training camps and minor league clubs for professional sports.

It is beyond me why university presidents are so quick to fall in line with powerful conference commissioners who seem to be calling the shots with these NCAA reforms. But I have no doubt why the power conferences are working to separate themselves from some Division 1 universities who still see the value of equity and fairness in athletic funding. Lately, those pesky mid-major programs such as Boise State and many others have showed up the big boys for what they are – wasteful models of athletic spending that cannot be justified.

Little late now to be moving them slow thighs, ain’t it, Kustra? You didn’t give a shit about evil commercialism until the big boys began making your school pay through the nose to stay in the big leagues. Now you sound like ol’ UD herself with all that excellent rhetoric about universities having something to do with academics.

Face it. You’re poor. And the poor stay poor. Accept your caste.

It’s a little late for Syracuse, too. Faculty there has finally decided to squawk about that school’s wasteful degrading ridiculous sports program. A local reporter talks to an economist who specializes in sports.

“Pay is up for coaches, pay is up for administrators,” [Andy] Schwarz said. “Athletic departments are hiring people, building new facilities. It doesn’t look like any losing business that I know of. But if you can say you’re losing money, there are a lot fewer questions. You don’t have people asking what you can do for them. The only people annoyed at you if you’re losing money is a few faculty members, and you can sort of manage that.”

At Syracuse four of the five highest-paid university employees are members of the athletic department, including athletic director Daryl Gross and women’s lacrosse coach Gary Gait. Gross, basketball coach Jim Boeheim and former football coach Doug Marrone all made at least $150,000 more in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to tax documents released by the school last week.

But the program’s losing money, see, so lay off, Little People of the Faculty.

Faculty of Syracuse University! You’re poor. And the poor stay poor. Accept your caste.

Professional leagues, and hedge funds, with educational institutions attached.

At one time, trading a scholarship for athletic performances made sense. There wasn’t much money available in college sports even in the revenue producing sports of football and basketball. But as TV money seeped into the industry, coaches were paid more and more money and colleges felt they needed to spend more money to get the best available coaches to recruit and instruct. State legislatures approved astronomical raises for coaches and in many states where public colleges are part of the college sports industry, the football or basketball coaches are the highest paid public employees… Millionaire coaches like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim bristle at the idea of paying college players even though the industry is flush with money from television and marketing partners…

College sports are not-profits. The industry has a blanket antitrust exemption that allows schools who play in college football bowl games to skip paying taxes from bowl game earnings. Yet NCAA members are getting billions from TV, and hundreds of millions alone from the Final Four weekend. At the same time, players are no longer content with missing out on their earnings. Dr. Harvey Schiller may have predicted the future for the industry, becoming a professional entity because there is too much money at risk for it not to happen.

The professionalization of our academic McDonalds (billions and billions sold) continues, with increasingly insistent arguments being made against the maintenance of non-profit status for athletics money, and for endowment money. Because it’s the same thing, isn’t it? Athletics and endowment?

If Harvard University generates a thirty-five billion dollar endowment (a number of other Ivies are not far behind), all of it in very significant ways protected from taxation… And if because of this astronomical profit people like Harvard investment managers get multiple millions in salary each year from the institution, and people like coaches get multiple millions in salary each year from the institution, but very little of the billions left over are spent for academic purposes (Harvard notoriously hoards its endowment; revenue sports players aren’t paid), why should we be surprised that communities surrounding McDonald’s schools are constantly challenging their tax exempt status in court? That Felix Salmon’s much quoted statement has it that Harvard is “a hedge fund with an educational institution attached“?

All of this is a small element of the immense income inequality debate in America today. CEOs like Gilead’s John Martin taking home almost $100 million each year are the real attention-getters in this debate. Yet America’s John Martin problem is a straightforward one: It is about capital markets and unlimited greed. Easy to grasp that.

And of course most of the people in this country have no trouble – applaud, in fact – one man or woman pulling in any amount imaginable for themselves. Ten years from now, Martin’s yearly compensation with be five hundred million. Bravo! Job well done. No upper limits, and people who question upper limits are jealous losers who have to be restrained by the state or the next thing you know it’s Kristallnacht.

Fine, okay, but does the same psychology pertain to high-minded non-profit universities becoming greedy billionaires? Even in America, there’s some vestigial sense that universities are different from John Martin. That sense could grow, could come to understand itself more clearly. And if that happens, there’s trouble ahead for the most profitable McDonald’s franchise-holders in the land.

Drones with my Scone

Longtime readers know that UD has a little house in the wilds of upstate New York. (Here’s the area of the house, in all its glorious back of beyondness.) Not much you’d call an event ever happens there. On the evening of July 4, you can sit in the front field and watch silent fireworks pop over the Catskill range. On other evenings, you can watch galaxies and satellites and shooting stars in a true dark sky.

Soon, maybe, you’ll be able to see and hear drones.

The new central NY drone test area doesn’t yet reach as far south as our place; but it’s not that far, as the drone flies.

UD understands that “all the pieces appear to be lining up for the eventual introduction of routine aerial surveillance in American life, a development that would profoundly change the character of public life in the United States.” She is in fact very interested (as is her hero, Don DeLillo) in the fate of privacy generally in postmodern America. She’s old-fashioned enough to find it strange, thinking of herself stepping onto the side deck of her country house of a morning and looking up at a little whirlygig that might be transmitting to Fort Drum the number of chips in her chocolate chip scone.

God knows I’m a good target. There’s nobody else around – just Les UDs on the top of their hill, in their house at the end of a driveway edged by evergreens planted by our long-ago neighbor Wojciech Fangor. (“At the beginning of the ’50s, he started to work with architects such as Stanislaw Zamecznik, Oskar Hansen, Zbigniew Ichnatowicz and Jerzy Sołtan.”)

Les UDs hope to be there in August. Maybe it’ll be The Summer of the Drones.

“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.

Howard’s Yardfest –

Putting Syracuse University’s Orange Madness to shame.

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