“[T]here are 50 other middlemen out there just like him who truly run college basketball. This is the sport, no matter what Mark Emmert’s Blue Ribbon Commission thinks.”

T.J. Gassnola is the president and head of the board of trustees of the University of Kansas. He is the face of the school. The front porch of the school.

T.J. runs basketball at KU, and basketball is just about all you’re ever going to read about when it comes to KU.

More specifically, he runs KU’s players. T.J. is in charge of giving them and their families huge wads of cash under the table at Las Vegas hotels to play at KU. T.J. keeps KU all basketball all the time. He is KU’s VIP, MVP, and HRH all rolled into one.


Everyone knows there’s nothing wrong with outfits like Adidas – for whom T.J. also works – giving money to future basketball greats. This wise investment often starts well before these players launch their adventures in university education… well before they decide to take advantage of the intellectual resources of places like Lawrence.

KU enjoys an extremely lucrative business relationship with Adidas.

Marc Emmert’s multimillion dollar NCAA salary is predicated on his absolute indifference to the transformation of once-respectable American universities into stinky petty hilarious crime gutters, places run by people like T.J. Gassnola.

So. All good. Everyone gets rich: The player, his family, Marc Emmert, the University of Kansas, and ol’ T.J.


So… FUCK the FBI. What the fuck? It sashays in like it’s king of the world, drags T.J. into court and makes him sing in exchange for reduced prison time for the many many naughty things T.J. has been up to … Worse yet, it makes KU and Emmert scrunch up their features, take a deep breath, and blow out the very best horseshit they can come up with about how shocked and disappointed and eager to be helpful they are…

UD‘s only sorry this woman is no longer KU’s chancellor – she came to KU after running Chapel Hill into the ground cuz of their athletic scandal, remember? She’s just the sort of person you want running a basketball factory, and she’s still getting paid too.


We had a nice tidy world here, see. Emmert and the whole “university” thing at KU did the work of shedding respectability-light upon the scheme so no one would think anything dark and criminal was going on. The players and the corporate suits and the coaches pocketed the money and kept their mouths shut. But now T.J.’s talking, and it’s… well, it’s Kafka, kiddies.

The most absurd moment of a most absurd day at the federal fraud case featuring one of college basketball’s most absurd characters had to be the following … well, actually, there are many contenders.

Maybe it was when Billy Preston wrecked his Dodge Charger on the campus of the University of Kansas. The fact a top incoming basketball recruit was driving such a car caused concern with the KU compliance office, which investigated who owned the vehicle.

Text messages later revealed Preston’s mother Nicole Player bragging about buying the car for her son, but … the car was … registered with “Nicole Player’s recently deceased grandmother” who lived in Florida.

KU was fine with this explanation. Who wouldn’t be?

[I]n the process of looking into the car, KU discovered a wire transfer to Player that came from a man named T.J. Gassnola. Player lived in Euless, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Gassnola hailed from Ludlow, Massachusetts, a little town a couple hours west of Boston.

There appeared to be no good reason for this exchange – and there wasn’t, at least by NCAA standards. Gassnola, a member of Adidas’ so-called “Black Ops” group and AAU team owner, detailed from the witness stand how he had plied Player with $89,000 over the course of nearly a year, including a $30,000 cash payout in a New York hotel room and another $20,000 brick delivered while in Las Vegas.

But wait, that’s not the best part.

Worried there was no proper explanation for the payments, Player texted Gassnola to inform him she had told KU officials the two had been involved in an “intimate” relationship, believing such activity would somehow make it NCAA legal.

If you can’t get enough of this stuff – and there’s TONS – go here.

Better yet, go here. This narrative, penned by Kafka after he dropped acid, is truly one of the greats.

You know you’ve tanked as an institution when your students need to lecture you on basic morality.

The UNC Chapel Hill student newspaper’s editor says farewell.

Ever since the response UNC gave to the NCAA regarding our academic scandal, I feel like I attend a school trying to seem rather than to be.

I’ve read the documents pertaining to the case. I understand why UNC did what it did to protect the institution, but I can’t help feeling empty inside because of it.

Our moves make us seem like we did nothing wrong, when in reality we robbed hundreds of the education they were promised. There is no way you will spin it to change my mind. It was a bureaucratic technicality made to preserve the “Southern Part of Heaven” aesthetic of Chapel Hill, not a moral defense that righted the wrong done to the students in the fraudulent classes.

While every news outlet in the country gets enraged at the president of the University of Maryland for stating the obvious…

… about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill having so corrupted itself via athletics that it deserves the NCAA’s death penalty, life goes on at the increasingly pathetic UNC. Yesterday the Faculty Athletic Committee met to discuss this and that. Let’s listen in.

The chancellor kicks things off with an insipid pep talk.

“People come here every single year because of sports engagements, and they get very excited about a national championship, but they come for the other athletic performances too and they come for our arts and our other academic performances.”

Are you excited yet? Well, how about this!

The Faculty Athletics Committee met Tuesday to discuss students missing classes for the men’s basketball national championship game in Arizona… Committee members also wanted to address the issue of cheerleaders and band members missing classes to travel during the postseason.

FAC Chairperson John Stephens brought up the concerns of one biology professor who said students in the pep band missed as many as eight classes between the ACC and NCAA tournaments — almost one quarter of the semester.

Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Robbi Evans said athletes were required to travel earlier because of media obligations, but cheerleaders and band members are not required to go to the game and must receive permission from their professors.

FAC member Andrew Perrin said he agrees that the community has benefitted from the national championship, but reminded the committee that everything good comes at a cost.

“For us to just sit around a table and talk about how fantastically wonderful it is that we won the championship and how many people were involved in it — I think we need to recognize that it’s not just lectures that get missed, it’s labs, it’s discussions, it’s experiential and participatory education,” Perrin said.

Yes, they must get permission, and I’m gonna be the professor at UNC who refuses Bob, The Team Barker, permission! Watch me! Watch me refuse permission! Because this is a serious school and I’m a serious person!


And yes, in case you hadn’t thought about this yet, it’s not just the players who don’t go to class. It’s cheerleaders, the pep band – all the people who shake their ass for ten minutes and then plant it on a bleacher for three hours… All of them need to be absent too…


But UD hasn’t gotten to the best part. What is a Faculty Athletics Committee, anyway?

It’s a carefully selected group of jock-adoring professors whose job it is to make little speeches like Andrew Perrin’s up there… About how, you know, it’s kind of not cool that our chancellor gives semi-literate sermons on the superduper superness of sports even in the shadow of our recent notorious academic fraud scandal… And that many students who are only tangentially associated with sports at this university routinely blow off class…

Yes, the chancellor does her inane enthusiasm thing, and the FAC professor does his inane Is this really a good idea? thing, and the UNC farce keeps rolling along until the next scandal…

“In 2016, … the University also continued to deal with the fallout from a long-running scheme of fake classes to keep athletes eligible and on the field. That’s the cost of playing the game.”

UD finds this statement, at the end of an article in the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s student paper, refreshing. It states the truth, bluntly. When you do this grotesque thing – when you import professional sports to universities, of all places – you’re going to have to prostitute the universities. That’s the cost of playing the game. Many of your players are going to play, and nothing else. Somehow you’re going to have to solve the problem of that pesky – even embarrassing – “university” identity, and it’s going to mean tutors who write papers for players, online classes ostensibly taken by players but actually taken by designated online-class-takers, and the creation of bogus departments with bogus courses designed to allow everyone to pretend that players have studied something.

Many of the players have already been admitted in bogus ways – they graduated from fake high schools (usually with reassuringly fervent Christian names) designed to produce legit-looking diplomas for sports guys. Your job, at Chapel Hill, is to figure out how to retain your recruits even though they’re not doing any schoolwork. Your biggest challenge is not the NCAA, which doesn’t give a shit, but rather the rogue tutor or investigative reporter.

A university like Chapel Hill – a community like Chapel Hill – sees itself above all as a professional sports team. Everyone, from the president down, has a role to play on the team. The president issues high-minded language about the glorious nexus of physical and mental achievement on campus. Professors pass the players along no matter what they do. Tutors do the players’ schoolwork. Local reporters are slavish panting boosters.

It all holds together very nicely – UNC’s bogus courses sailed along for decades – until, as most recently at the University of Missouri – someone has a crisis of conscience or something, and the ship goes down.

And then it comes up again. I mean, the scandal costs the school (taxpayers, often) zillions, and getting rid of a coach or two (this is de rigueur post-scandal: dump some coaches) is also expensive (you’re breaking a contract; plus these guys are liable to sue), but in the end none of these jock school academic scandals amount to anything. Even if you decide to dump the president, she’ll just move to another jock school, and you’ll have all the time and expense of finding another person able to talk about your rigorous academic program with a straight face.

Cost of playing the game.

It’s so sad when universities don’t realize just how pathetic they are.

Here’s a professor at UC Chapel Hill who thinks that his institution having wasted ten million dollars on its latest sports scandal is impressive.

Over $5 million went to Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. The folks at Skadden, Arps got a couple million more. We paid $1.3 million to Bond, Schoeneck & King; another million to Baker, Tilly. Almost double that amount went to Edelman, a giant PR outfit, offering expertise on “corporate reputation management.” FleishmanHillard raked in almost $400,000. You’d think the Old Well had relocated to Madison Avenue.

Yadda yadda. It’s like Dr Evil threatening to “hold the world ransom for… one MILLion dollars!” These are pathetic sums.

Penn State has so far paid out $93 million in its sports scandal. Talk to me when you’ve hit fifty mill.

UD thanks John.


Why, asks this writer, is Temple University going to be the next school to screw itself over but good by building a new football stadium? Why? And why does no one ever ask why?

The question that we never seem to ask is why… What we won’t ask, what we never ask, is why a college such as Temple University – or any college, really – should care [so much about things like football and football stadiums]. We won’t ask how a Top 25 ranking or a visit from ESPN helps fulfill the mission of an institution of higher learning, or why such an institution should spend any of its resources pursuing them, particularly when those resources are financed in large part by taxpayer and student debt.

Take, for instance, the University of Akron’s stadium, “a $55 million project that would be funded exclusively by private donations and stadium revenues. When it hosted its first game in 2009, it was a $62 million project funded primarily by student tuition and fees… [This] year [Akron’s deeply indebted stadium] is attracting the lowest attendance in the MAC.”

David Murphy provides other examples. There are many.


But okay. Let’s go there. Why? Big stadiums and big football programs have nothing to do with (indeed they erode) the academic mission which defines a university, and they will almost certainly do terrible damage to everyone at the school (via deficits and scandals) except for the athletic department and whatever trustees own companies doing sports-related business with the university.

Some people will claim that the mystery of the new stadium is essentially a religious mystery, having to do with the “unchurched” American’s evolution away from houses of worship and toward football fields.

Clemson University coach Dabo Swinney is aggressively Christian, even letting one of his players get baptized on the 50-yard-line during practice, never mind that Clemson is a state school.

A Georgia public school is looking into a mass baptism on its football field that was posted on YouTube but later taken down.

If your font is a fifty yard line, you’re stadium-building on faith, not reason. The economics of New Life Stadium are simple: The Lord will provide.

But there’s more to the stadium mystery, I think.

UD suggests that at some universities it’s a combination of not being able to think of anything else to do, plus sexual fantasy. The two things are related, because when people don’t have much to do, when their lives seem kind of drifty and pointless and empty, they’re liable to do a lot of fantasizing.

I think some leaders of universities – presidents, trustees – don’t know what to do with themselves. A very high-profile professor, a leader, at the University of North Carolina spends years negotiating pretend grades for pretend student papers and thinks nothing of committing the grade-haggling to writing in an email. What was Jan Boxill thinking? asks the Chronicle of Higher Ed. The answer is absolutely nothing, just like her colleague Julius Nyang’oro; they were just sort of drifting along, lost in erotic reverie about their beautiful athletes for whom they would do anything, including destroy themselves and their university. An assistant coach at the University of Louisville comes up with the idea of turning an athletes’ dorm into a brothel. Why? Popped into his head one day during a sexual reverie. Popped into his head while he was thinking hard about how to make his beautiful athletes’ lives even more beautiful.


You have to have a high threshold of embarrassment to read people describe their feelings about football.

I loved football. I loved it desperately. Even now, four decades later, I remember endlessly damning myself for being too small to play it at a big-time college. I ached for it, for the violence of it…

Look at the shirtless boys with faces and torsos painted in the school colors; look at the cheerleaders on the fields, the ‘waves’ surging through the stands.

These men, either of whom could have written “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” represent countless sports-factory denizens spending their days in a haze of university-hatred and hormones.

Is hatred too strong? What sort of emotion allows you to seek and destroy any vestige of intellectual seriousness?


One key here is hiring retired politicians as university presidents, good old boys who don’t give a shit about “academia,” whatever that is. The sort of men currently running, for instance, Florida State and Oklahoma University.

[The university’s academic unit can go, but] the football team must be saved because the intense tribal loyalty generated by big-time sports is one of the chief mechanisms employed by universities to create the illusion that they exist. I’ve lived in Chapel Hill and experienced the closest thing to full-scale Dionysian revelry one is likely to find in modern America, on Franklin Street after the men’s basketball team won it all. It was thrilling. It felt like we were one people, all of us, conquerors. But it was also an illusion (I wasn’t a student at the time), a false consciousness manufactured by the university to conceal its non-existence as an academic institution.


Listen to this song. It also asks why. Listen to its lyrics, and imagine them sung by a university president as he or she thinks about one of the school’s football players. You just tiptoe into all my dreams…. It’s the kind of passion that will not be denied, no matter how many hearts are broken.

UD thanks Ian.

Whormitory Days

Our universities’ latest nationally riveting sex scandal, second only to Penn State’s Sandusky thing, has started another one of those Is something wrong with our universities? conversations.

Richard Vedder takes note of “the financial excesses and corruption that pervade college sports,” and calls for the feds to form a national commission on the future of university athletics so we can decide whether we want to keep subsidizing pimps, pedophiles, and the coaches who love them.

Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, chief academic officer at Chapel Hill during years of the now-notorious Nyang’oro scandal, worries in particular about the future of public universities in America.

As well she should, given the way she did absolutely nothing throughout her UNC tenure about immense academic fraud at that school… But she takes no responsibility for all of that; she’s worried that public universities are going to die because of declining state support.

Whenever the heads of public universities condemn the stinginess of their legislatures, they loftily remind everyone that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Yet as Vedder suggests, when your school looks like a money-hemhorrhaging joke run by idiots (sample headline for the University of Kansas: Kansas Football is Doomed, and the School’s Other Sports are Paying the Price), you make it awfully easy for politicians to shrug you off. When your school uses “transactional sex as a method of recruitment,” when sixteen-year-olds enter the dorms and “are told by people in power and players they’ve seen play on national television that in big time college hoops, women are just another item to be passed under the table,” it’s a little hard for university presidents to maintain their lofty academic airs.

The Future of an Illusion

Today the American universities not only form the best system of higher education in the world, but are morally impressive institutions. They are not incoherent, nor are they in crisis.

Well, I guess this ain’t Allan Bloom.

No, it’s UD‘s hero, Richard Rorty.

She likes Bloom, but she likes Rorty more.

Her other heroes? The two Christophers: Christopher Lasch and Christopher Hitchens.

Albert Camus. George Orwell. Philip Rieff. Tony Judt.

Can we derive some coherence from these dead white males? Can we say why the same human being would swoon reading both hyper-righties and hyper-lefties? (And weren’t Lasch and Hitchens sort of both?) Why the same human being would applaud when Rorty says universities aren’t in crisis, and when Bloom says they are?

Do we want simply to say, with Gwendolyn, that ‘In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.’? Because all of these men wrote well (Rieff wrote like a jerk, yes, but not all the time. Not in his earlier days.), and some of them (Orwell) wrote insanely well.

No. Surely we want to grant UD a tad more depth than this. It’s not merely about writing style. Yet writing style is part of it. These men are all impassioned moralists, impassioned social justice warriors, and their prose shows it. Their prose has the sort of kick you get when you actually care about what you’re saying, when you believe that language is politics and that politics is how you decrease human suffering. It’s very much like what George Saunders says in an appreciation of E.L. Doctorow:

What I found particularly inspiring about Doctorow was the way he would tweak form to produce moral-ethical effect — the way that he seemed not to see these two things as separate. Reading his great “Ragtime,” for example, I can feel that all of that technical verve is there necessarily — to serve and escalate meaning and emotion. But as important — the verve serves and escalates the fun, the riveting sense that a particular and wonderful human mind is having a great time riffing on the things of this world, trying to make sense of them. The work exudes fascination with the human, and a wry confidence in it, and inspires these feelings in us as we read. Doctorow, we might say, role-models a hopeful stance toward what can be a terrifying world.


In the same remarks of his I quote from at the beginning of this post, Rorty says:

If I were writing a history of the American university, I would tell an upbeat story about the gradual replacement of the churches by the universities as the conscience of the nation. One of the most important things that happened in the U.S. in the twentieth century was that the universities became the places where movements for the relief of human suffering found privileged sanctuaries and power bases. The universities came to play a social role that they had not played in the nineteenth century.

An impassioned atheist, Rorty reveres the American university as the place where arts- and sciences-inspired free and democratic discourse about the world and how to improve it, and about humanity and how to know and love it, thrives. The university is where we gather to read and talk about morally charged language, like Doctorow’s.


Remember what Bartlett Giamatti called the university: a free and ordered space. When Rorty calls the university “not incoherent,” he doesn’t mean it’s coherent, as in fully pulled together, fully ordered and organized around some shared principle or faith. (And as readers of this blog know, once a university decides to organize itself around Joe Paterno, forfuckinggetit.) He means it’s coherent enough – it’s ordered enough to be free enough to generate the sorts of conversations, readings, and experiences that tend to make people (students, professors, readers of the research professors and students generate) more lucid and more compassionate. And more free, rather in the way of, as Saunders puts it, having fun — being part of a classroom where people are experiencing “the riveting sense that a particular and wonderful human mind is having a great time riffing on the things of this world, trying to make sense of them.” That mind, in the university setting, is a collective one, made up of the free and at the same time ordered synergy between a professor and her students.


All of this is by way of background for a few comments on this intriguing opinion piece in today’s New York Times.

Kevin Carey is clearly on Bloom’s side. This is his opening paragraph:

To understand the failures of the modern American college system — from admissions marketing to graduation rates — you can begin with a notorious university football scandal.

So we’re going to talk about Chapel Hill as emblematic of what has made American universities a failure. Not just a failure – a nothing. An illusion. Carey’s title: The Fundamental Way that Universities are an Illusion. Later in the piece he will talk about them as Easter eggs – beautiful on the outside, dead on the inside.

The Nyang’oro fraud went on as long as it did because

U.N.C. had essentially no system for upholding the academic integrity of courses. “So long as a department was offering a course,” one distinguished professor told the investigators, “it was a legitimate course.” … The illusory university pretends that all professors are guided by a shared sense of educational excellence specific to their institution. In truth, as the former University of California president Clark Kerr observed long ago, professors are “a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking.”… When college leaders talk about academic standards, they often mean admissions standards, not standards for what happens in classrooms themselves. Or they vaguely appeal to traditions and shared values without any hard evidence of their meaning… The problem for students is that it is all but impossible to know ahead of time which part of the disunified university is which. [And the problem for faculty is that this] kind of profound dissonance can knock askew the moral compasses of people who have ostensibly dedicated their professional lives to education. How else to explain the many people at Chapel Hill — including, incredibly, the director of a center on ethics — who abetted or ignored rampant fraud?

It’s the free and ordered thing again. Carey believes the freedom Rorty identifies in the American university has dissipated into disorder, so that anything goes in terms of pedagogical content, which makes the world safe for the endemic cheating we know goes on at virtually all big-time sports schools. At such schools – the cutting edge, Carey seems to argue, of the frayed American university – even faculty – even ethics faculty – are cheaters. And why? Because they recognize “no shared values,” no “shared sense of educational excellence,” that would give existential identity, much less academic integrity, to the place where they happen to work.

In response to this, I’d like to cite Rorty once again:

In one sense, [the term “morality”] is used to describe someone relatively decent, trustworthy, and honest – one who gives correct change, keeps promises, doesn’t lie much, can usually be relied upon to take an appropriate share in cooperative efforts, and so on. It seems to me if you’re not that sort of person by the time you’re eighteen, it’s probably too late. I don’t think that sociopaths who enter the university are corrigible by any measures that the academy might adopt. If the family, the community, the church, and the like, haven’t made you a relatively decent member of society, haven’t given you a conscience that stops you from cheating the customers, administering date rape drugs, or doing a lot of things we hope our eighteen year olds won’t do, the university won’t either. The academy can’t take on the job of straightening you out, of creating the conscience that the rest of the culture didn’t manage to produce during your first eighteen years.

This is the same point UD tirelessly makes about the absurdity of ethics courses in business schools – and those are older students. They’ve had four or five years past undergraduate school to acquire a sense of decency.

And how much more hopeless when you’re whatever age professors Jan Boxhill and Julius Nyang’oro were when they dedicated year after year of their lives to robbing students of an education and trashing their school’s integrity…

Carey wants us to believe that the openness of their work setting, the structural trust of faculty and students upon which the maturity and generativity of the American university rests, knocked askew the fragile moral compasses of Boxhill and Nyang’oro. But that trust did nothing to their morality because they lacked morality all by themselves; they were the sort of people who take advantage of the trust others place in them, and the openness of the American university simply made it easier for them to do the sorts of things they do because of the way they are. UD doesn’t think we should press the great free liberal arts schools of America in the direction of moral explicitness and constraint merely because some of the people there are bad actors.

“Consistency is all I ask!” “Give us this day our daily mask.”

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s chatter captures an important truth about corruption and hypocrisy as they play out at some of our highest-profile big-time sports universities. Everyone knows that universities like Auburn and Clemson are corrupt; but Auburn and Clemson are consistently corrupt; they wear the daily mask of honest hypocrisy. They have a modest, becoming, forthcoming, hypocrisy.


Think of it this way.

“[A] state like Illinois with a high corruption rate makes a better investment than a state with a moderate corruption rate… The reason is that the return for your bribe is more certain in a highly corrupt environment.”

It turns out that a very corrupt state offers its own kind of transparency.

That’s the kind of transparency I’m talking about. Almost all big-time sports universities are highly corrupt, but only some are transparent about it.


Or think of it this way: Who do you prefer to represent international banking, Lloyd Blankfein or the Reverend Prebendary Stephen Green? Recall Blankfein’s reliable mask as he testified in front of Congress; compare this to the reverend’s chilly refusal to lower himself to discuss his own lowness… his refusal to accept his lowness.

What I’m trying to say is that the truly contemptible universities are those, like Duke and Chapel Hill, who keep flouncing around like Blanche Du Bois, denying that they’re just as whorish as Clemson and Auburn. Duke’s Beloved Leader – like Rev Green – refuses to discuss his program’s latest scandal. UNC doesn’t want to talk about the likelihood that it’s as corrupt on the graduate level as it is on the undergraduate. (UD thanks Ken, a reader, for this link.) But they owe it to us – the American taxpayers subsidizing their luxury boxes full of drunken louts and their departments of exercise sciences doing the Beloved Leader’s bidding – to be transparently corrupt.

“Potti’s mentor, cancer geneticist Joseph Nevins, pleaded with Perez not to send a letter about his concerns to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which was supporting him, because it would trigger an investigation at Duke, according to a deposition cited in court documents.”

It’s often only years later, when the lawsuits start teasing out emails, that you understand how certain harrowing instances of university research misconduct get to the point where, as at Duke University, “the methods used by [a] research group [weren’t] validated — and yet they [were] being used to assign patients to clinical trials.”

And just as in the University North Carolina Chapel Hill academic fraud case the (ignored, defamed) whistle blower was a person who ranked low in the local hierarchy, so in the Duke case, Bradley Perez was just a medical student, and when he complained to the now-notorious Anil Potti about the bogus research Potti was involving Perez in, the faker drew himself up to his full measure of fakery and told Perez “he takes it as a personal insult if people don’t believe in what he is doing.”

Perez persisted, casting about for other administrators who could help him put an end to Potti’s fraud. They weren’t helpful. They still aren’t. Two of Duke’s highest level administrators – Sally Kornbluth and Victor Dzau (famous Victor Dzau!) continue to insist they knew nothing about Perez’s early and frequent warnings.

Did Kornbluth know about the Perez case? Did Victor Dzau, who was then Duke Chancellor?

The answers are yes and yes.


One scientific observer, considering this case as it has now revealed itself, comments:

“There is more to this story than the heroic and principled actions of an erudite young man and the shame that has befallen a great university in blindly and selfishly defending its own. It is indicative of a lack of understanding of the scientific method among many scientists… The Duke scandal is extreme, to be sure. But irreproducibility in academic research is common. And the reward structure and complacency of universities is to blame.”

There’s money on the table, in other words, so let’s not fuck it up.

Who knew? UD took her eye off the University of Louisville, so….

… she didn’t know exactly what big ol’ scandal they were up to now… But their recent hiring of the University of North Carolina’s finest stonewaller, Leslie Strohm, turns out to have something to do with their attempting to keep the results of an audit of the “KFC YUM!” arena (UD is not making this stuff up) out of the hands of the state attorney general.

He has explained to the university that it’s in violation of open records laws, but the university (which no doubt has excellent reasons to stonewall on this) continues to withhold the document. And who better to help them do this than the pride of Chapel Hill, Stonewall Strohm herself?

A sample of local press coverage.

That’s called earning the “U of Smell” nickname. This hiring stinks.

And so now here, with the University under fire for not turning over documents related to an internal audit of potential misdoing (on a number of issues, including The Yum Center), the school has hired someone who is alleged to be adept at covering up wrongdoing.

Lucky Louisville!

As UD explained here, one of America’s most ghastly jockshops, the University of Louisville, has scored quite the td in recruiting one of the architects of Chapel Hill’s undoing.

Here is one of her valedictories as she leaves UNC. It appears in UNC’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel:


It is good news that Leslie Strohm is leaving her position as UNC Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.

I had strongly recommended to the administrative review committee that her contract not be renewed, following [ex-chancellor] Holden Thorp’s unfortunate resignation. I stated that “she is incompetent, dishonest and unethical.”

Her stonewalling on releasing records about the athletics scandal has only made things worse; with better advice, Holden Thorp might still be here.

Elliot M. Cramer

Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Do keep in mind, in case UD has not said it explicitly enough, that UL’s motive in hiring her is almost certainly her protect-the-dirty-sports-program-at-all-costs M.O.

Can’t keep in mind the details of each and every dirty sports program? Type UNIVERSITY LOUISVILLE into my search engine.

But just to whet your appetite: Here’s a sample.

Jan Boxill: The ULTIMATE Academic Stakhanovite… Or is she?

She taught

160 independent study courses between spring 2004 and spring 2012…. [I]n spring 2005 she taught 20.

Let’s just start with that. Let’s start by trying to imagine what her daily life must have been like with 160 independent studies taught alongside a classroom teaching load.

Then let’s add her directorship of an ethics center. Her work as a summer school administrator for the philosophy department. During these years she was an academic advisor to the athletics program. She was associate chair of her department. She was Teaching Coordinator and Director of Undergraduate Studies for her department. She sat on a quadrillion university committees.

In addition: “UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell said Boxill completely oversaw the teams’ academics, making herself available for players at all hours of the day.”


It might seem a small point, but

[UNC’s] highly autonomous academic culture [the sort of culture that makes things like independent studies possible] is exactly what led to UNC’s academic-athletic scandal, according to the Wainstein report.

Datz right, kiddies. Thanks to Jan and Julius and Deborah and a whole, whole lot of other people, you can kiss any autonomy goodbye if you teach at unannounced spot checks to make sure all faculty are meeting their classes Chapel Hill. Keep your nose clean and fill out all your paperwork by five, sucker.

It might seem a small point. But it’s the biggest of them all.


Jan’s a sports-lover and it’s obvious that she’s very competitive.

UD has some very bad news for Jan.

I know, I know. She’s handling a lot of bad news just now, and it’s not nice to pile on. But I think she will appreciate knowing this, because I know she’s the sort of person eager to lift her game.

Thomas Petee, of Auburn University, taught

152 [independent studies] in the spring of 2005, [and] 120 in the fall of 2004.

Chapel Hill: 20
Auburn: 152

That’s a pretty shitty showing, Jan. If you don’t mind my saying. It’s pretty obvious which of the two of you was doing more for your school.


UD thanks Dave.

This is what you call a horizontal move.

From one scummy sports program to another.

If you’re the University of Louisville, you’re looking desperately for people like Chapel Hill’s Leslie Strohm. The University of Louisville is one of the worst jockshops in America. It must be thrilled that it has wooed Strohm away from Chapel Hill.

Strohm was one of the key players behind a public records battle with the media as reporters attempted to look into a scandal involving student athletes and allegations of academic misconduct. UNC, with Strohm’s legal advice, used the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to deny numerous public records requests at the height of the scandal.

Attorneys for ABC11 and eight other media organizations sued UNC, claiming the university was illegally stifling public records requests stemming from the initial football investigation that led to NCAA sanctions.

Among the records the media was fighting for: un-redacted phone records, player parking tickets, and a full list of tutors including salaries.

ABC11 and other media outlets won the lawsuit, and the records were released.

Okay, she lost that one; but Louisville knows it’s going to have to do some major stonewalling of its own as national attention turns to our sports factories and the way they run.

And Strohm – well, she’s been through baptism by fire. She’s been at Chapel Hill. Time for her to turn her talents to another, uh, troubled university.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Oh, Goody. Finally an Honest Orwellian.

Finally a University of North Carolina insider willing to trot out the whole 2+2=5, War is Peace, routine! Anyone can condemn the football and basketball scandal at that school as America’s largest instance yet of the way big-time athletics destroys our universities, and indeed in the past couple of weeks everyone has – in a myriad of opinion pieces – done just that. Lawsuits are flying, alumni are pissed, heads are rolling, etc., etc. It’s Penn State all over again.

Only a few people, under these weighty circumstances, will have the guts to go against the grain.

SOS knew that such people would have to come out of UNC’s business school.

So say hello to Michael Jacobs. Mike, c’mon down! We’re gonna do a close scathe of your prose, because you’ve earned it.

Paragraph #1:

For years we have been hearing about the “athletic” or “academic-athletic” scandal at UNC. Maybe I am missing something, but where was the athletic scandal? Were teams shaving points? Were tennis players intentionally making bad line calls? Were soccer players taking performance-enhancing drugs? Were athletes competing on the field who were academically ineligible?

Establish a peeved, above-it-all, know-it-all tone from the outset and come out swinging. No apologies, no concessions. Your first paragraph should contain no use of the word football or basketball. You are going to concentrate instead on the sports that really matter at UNC, the high-profile revenue tennis and soccer teams.

Paragraph #2

No doubt, there has been a scandal at UNC. But what happened in Chapel Hill was an academic scandal. This is not just about semantics. How you characterize the problem dictates how you devise the solution.

Jacobs has copied the response to the scandal that the entire leadership of the school attempted before it couldn’t anymore: Nothing to see here sportswise! (Penn State tried exactly the same thing: It wasn’t an athletic or an academic scandal there: It was just this one creepy guy, Sandusky, who showed up on campus occasionally… ) The UNC scandal is simply about bad business practices, and I’m a biz school guy, so I should know. I’m all about getting it done, solving problems, and I’m going to let UNC in on how to get out of this mess because – I’m now going to share one of those impressive b-school insights – ‘How you characterize the problem dictates how you devise the solution.’

This crucial sentence should really be rendered as it appears in its natural PowerPoint presentation habitat:

How You Characterize The Problem DICTATES How You Devise The Solution.

Paragraph #3:

Athletes were not the only ones enrolled in bogus AFAM classes. They might have been the intended primary beneficiary, but the scandal appears to have been germinated and incubated by the academic side of the university. Paper classes were the brainchild of “academicians” in the college of arts and sciences.

The first sentence is correct, and it means not that the scandal therefore was only academic, but that the scandal was endemic to the university as such. That is, it operated throughout all aspects of the institution, including fraternities (frat boys were the other big beneficiaries of the hoax), athletics, administration, and faculty. The second two sentences are incorrect. The scandal was the brainchild of Deborah Crowder in association with coaches, the hilariously titled Academic Counselors, and Julius Nyang’oro. It seems to have enjoyed tacit acceptance everywhere, all the way up to the woman now chancellor at a sports-above-all sister school, University of Kansas.

Note also Jacobs’ penchant for quotation marks. They designate the can-do biz guy’s contempt for the enemy – intellectuality.

Paragraph #4:

The irony is that now a vocal group of UNC faculty members is questioning whether big-time athletics can co-exist with a prominent academic research institution. The corruption of athletics is tainting the pure quest for knowledge, they contend.

SOS says: This is fine. He’s extending his point about stoopid “academicians.” But she would urge Jacobs, on rewriting, to put the words tainting and pure in quotation marks as well. Like this:

The corruption of athletics is “tainting” the “pure” quest for knowledge, they contend.

SOS knows what you’re saying. Put corruption in quotation marks too! But three q.m.’s in one sentence is too many, she contends.

Paragraph #5

The simple answer is yes they can co-exist, as they do at reputable institutions all across the country, if the academicians will run the academic program with integrity.

Here we see the cut through all the bullshit approach of the b-school boys. Simple, pragmatic, nothing fancy, just square your shoulders and get the job done. All you need is the guts, and unfortunately academicians are gutless. Notice that we’re in the fifth paragraph and the words football and basketball have still not appeared. Certainly reputable institutions across the country have been able to run their tennis and soccer programs with integrity. UNC can too, and this is how:

Paragraph #6:

The breakdown at UNC was due to a lack of appropriate controls and accountability systems within the college of arts and sciences. The primary gestation period for this scandal occurred under the watch of a chancellor who was a musician. While universities need scholars in all areas, including music, music is probably not the optimal background to manage a complex $1.5 billion organization.

Cherchez le musicien! You can get some pansy who fiddles while Rome burns, or you can bring in me and the boys to clean up the mess. It’s your choice! It’s your funeral! It’s your Requiem! Your complex organization (suddenly all that stuff about simple has become complex) needs Men, not Mice.

Okay, we’ll skip a bit, as Brother Maynard says.

Here’s the heart of the thing:

Many in the college of arts and sciences squirmed because [the new post-scandal provost] did not come from among their ranks. The fact that he was an expert in organizational control systems and accountability rather than romance languages made some faculty members uneasy. But Chancellor Folt had defined the problem correctly.

It was all those violinists with French poems dancing in their heads who did this to us, who dragged our fine complex institution into the dust! If you want to clean things up, you obviously have to go to the money guys!

Perhaps the scholars in Chapel Hill who are screaming from the mountaintop that we need to purge our research universities of athletics should pause, take a deep breath and internalize an insight from that great scholar Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and they are us.” The best scholars don’t make the best administrators.

Bravo, says SOS. Jacobs has managed to write an entire opinion piece about football and basketball at UNC without ever mentioning either sport. He has also failed to mention the existence of athletic directors and coaches — the people who, as more and more players now attest, ran the scam from on high for twenty years.

I mean, it’s very odd, isn’t it? The fact is that UNC has been following Jacobs’ advice for ages, and that indeed the athletic program was run brilliantly, generating massive profits and wins. So what happened?

What happened is something that the Jacobs model, to its everlasting peril, overlooks. What happened is that one rogue academician squealed. Mary Willingham is what happened, and no university management system, however complexly and pragmatically run, can control for the rare, bizarre emergence of an honest, non-Orwellian person in its midst.

The only way to control for the enemy within is indeed, to use Jacobs’ appropriately Orwellian word, to purge her. So this is how SOS would suggest revising the piece. Add this.

The screaming scholars of Chapel Hill have it exactly backwards: We don’t need to purge our research universities of athletics. We need to purge our athletics of research universities.

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