UD could care less about sports of any kind (exception: competitive Scrabble), but she’ll say this: Her need to read about athletics for this blog at least led her to Deadspin. Who knew some of the best writing in America would come out of this funny, subversive, knowledgeable, source? Deadspin has taught UD much of what she’s learned about the lingo and lunacy of the jock shop, and along the way it has delighted her not only with its literacy, but also its amused embrace of the ultra-loucheness of this thing that has taken over – of all places – our universities.
Nobody notices or cares when professional soccer, football, and basketball are disgusting. We only pay attention at the very grossest margins, as when an NFL player tortures his dog to death. Moral monstrosity on the level of mere money registers not at all, as in the failure of the FIFA story, or the related story about the apparently universal tax evasion of international soccer players, to get anywhere at all. Who cares. Put a bunch of guys together with a lot of money and surprise.
But the university. Ah the university. Little streamers of seriousness continue to flutter ‘pon it. Wilted garlands of gravitas shake aloft their dying buds. The Sacred Groves of Academe! When a university reveals its true rot, as in the moral desert of (in effect) all-male Baylor, the extremity of response – A new woman president! Who, asked why she took the job, says “I love Jesus.” – tells you all you need to know about the effort required to keep stray wisps of legitimacy flying.
But I don’t want to overstate the matter…
So people do indeed tend to notice the truly debauched campus. Whorehouse-for-teens-and-their-parents proprietor University of Louisville is the higher ed scuzz-meme of the moment, cited in a kind of shorthand in many articles about other athletic scandals; indeed, it’s mentioned in a wonderful Deadspin piece about Hugh Freeze, a guy who has a lot in common with the miscreants at Baylor, being both a superduper Christian and a (reportedly) twisted piece of shit.
Ole Miss, ex-haunt of football coach Freeze [background here], has many advantages when it comes to ultra-louche supremacy on a university campus, the most important of which is its location in the most corrupt, most benighted, state in America. Nobody much cares what goes on down there, and this includes the people who run the state. So the tired business of boosters giving impermissible benefits to players, and similar venerable forms of corruption, continue to thrive at Ole Miss, which means the NCAA’s always sniffing around. The general air of loucheness in a steamy south that time forgot, plus William Faulkner having lived in Oxford, means that people often reach in the direction of his novels (with special attention to the Snopes family) to, er, contextualize some of the goings on, as Deadspin notes in a wonderful summarizing paragraph:
The revelation of Freeze’s possible sex-having brought its fair share of confused hilarity [to observers], but did little to outline the future of either of Ole Miss’s ongoing, convoluted [legal] cases with [former former Ole Miss coach suing Freeze for defamation Houston] Nutt and the NCAA. There were (are) still a number of questions to be answered — namely, how Nutt and [his lawyer Thomas] Mars knew exactly where to look [for dirt on Freeze]; whether anybody comparing this case to a William Faulkner novel actually read a William Faulkner novel; how long Freeze was possibly using school technology and school funds to maybe fuck; how far back into his career Freeze’s general misbehavior extends; whether Freeze was even the one doing the fucking; whether Ole Miss know about Freeze’s extracurriculars beforehand; and how Nutt’s legal team will use this information moving forward.
That one about whether Freeze was actually doing the fucking: There’s a theory that the calls on his phone to an escort service might have been on behalf of a recruit…
UD does think the Faulkner comparison works, since he wrote convoluted stories like this one, about vague imperishable grudges among unsavory people, like these people.
The phrase about how far back Freeze’s misbehavior extends: The Deadspin piece includes some way-twisted testimony about the way Freeze behaved when he coached a women’s high school basketball team.
One woman [says that] Freeze forced her to change shirts in his office, claiming her Grateful Dead shirt violated the school dress code because it “represented drugs.” At the time, [she] was in eighth grade; according to her, Freeze did not leave the room while she changed.
“Coach Freeze pulled me in his office and told me that my shirt represented drugs. … I said, ‘I’ll go change in the bathroom,’ and when I said that he said, ‘No, you’re going to change in here so I get the (Grateful Dead) shirt and you can’t have it back.’
He didn’t do anything sexual. But I stood in the corner and faced the wall when I did it and I changed out of my shirt. No privacy.”
Another student, remaining anonymous, claimed Freeze was “hyper attentive” when it came to making sure the girls’s skirts adhered to school policy. She also claimed that on one occasion, when she was late getting back to class from her lunch period, Freeze obliged her request to be paddled rather than sit in detention; instead of fetching a female administrator to complete or at least proctor the punishment, Freeze paddled her himself.
“(Freeze) did some bizarre warm-up taunt before actually making contact,” said the woman, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because she said she fears reprisal. “I was humiliated that he didn’t have a female in the room. I don’t know if the acts were intentionally sexual or if he was really that oblivious to the inherently sexual nature of his approach to discipline.”