Airplane Banner on Flyover in East Lansing, At Michigan – MSU Game

Taken over MSU Stadium Just Before Start of UM-MSU Game

Taken over MSU Stadium Just Before Start of UM-MSU Game

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Salt Water Pool at Seaside, Cape Town, South Africa

Taken by My Daughter Emma, 3 Hours Ago, Before Diving In --  Seaside Salt Water Pools, Cape Town, South Africa

Taken by My Daughter Emma, 3 Hours Ago, Before Diving In — Seaside Salt Water Pools, Cape Town, South Africa

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Wainstein’s UNC White-Shoe Review: Email Trails and the Insider’s Hokey Pokey Line Dance

The Ken Wainstein UNC report penetrated a twenty-year academic fraud at UNC.  At least it’s now plain that Mary Willingham deserves an apology for all the vitriol she’s absorbed, which should have been directed toward the many staffers and faculty in on the fraud — including all the coaches briefed in 2009 with a PowerPoint outlining the courses taken by athletes which didn’t even require them to “stay awake.”

Other people have adequately outlined the basic conclusions from Wainstein’s thorough review, but might have overlooked the extent to which the elements of Wainstein’s forensic “white-shoe-review” technique (which were also on display in his UMiami “investigation of the NCAA investigation” report) not only reflect his unique bias, but also result in reports which combine some strong, well-founded conclusions with fabricated facts or principles at odds with the evidence before him.

1. Always start with the email trail:  Wainstein and his team first “conduct[ed] an extensive email and document review,” which included review of 1.6 million emails using 48 key search-words. Broad email review has been the cardinal rule — a cookbook, mandatory first step — in any any forensic review, since the ubiquitous use of email to conduct business began 25 years ago.

2. Then use that email gold-mine to plot out your review: “We then used,” Wainstein instructs, “those emails to craft our investigation strategy.”

3. Go soft on the motives of participants: Wainstein gets a starry-eyed when analyzing the motivations of central protagonists Debbie Crowder (who, Wainstein notes, felt that it was her “duty” to help others who struggled with difficult courses as she had as a UNC undergrad), and Mr. Nyang’oro, the department chair who, Wainstein reports with fawning approval, claimed that his sham courses were conducted because he was, early on, haunted that two student-athletes who had flunked out later ended up either in jail or murdered. (This echoes Jim Tressel’s preposterous 2011 explanation for having long-concealed information that his players had been trading with a tattoo-parlor owner, because that owner had been involved, Tressel had “heard,” with some events which sometime long ago involved a murder.)

Wainstein is, in many ways, circumspect. But he shows here an almost devil-may-care propensity to parrot these “noble intent” excuses which overlook the adult wisdom that beginning intent often morphs, as Shakespeare or Conrad point out, into a bricolage of mixed-motives toward power, status, money, and social acceptance. Wainstein might want us to believe that he is naive, but his report, and his process, belie any such claim of naivete.

HokeyyPokey

4. Wainstein Likes to Do the Hokey-Pokey –  Give cover to the big-shots: As I pointed out in a previous post (Badly Flawed NCAA Enforcement Review Uses Ouija Board – Not Rule of Law- to Find Violations ), Wainstein’s UMiami/NCAA report was almost universally misinterpreted. That report registered one central, well-founded, and honest conclusion: that there existed zero written rules, laws, regulations, department policies — anywhere – which were violated by the NCAA staffers. Had Wainstein been completely honest, he would have ended his analysis there. (See also Wainstein Touted Emmert’s Miami “Prudential Concerns” AND Authorized NSA Surveillance). Continue reading

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The Fight Doc in a Lifeguard Chair — State of the Art Football Concussion-Management

A Simple Suggested Paradigm for Football Game Concussion Management: The Fight Doc in a Lifeguard Chair With Unobstructed View and Authority

Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto illustrates the potent power of a simple common-sense change: insisting that physicians and other health care providers always use simple checklists, to insure that all necessary tasks are completed, almost always causes the number of medical errors to plunge.

I wrote two weeks ago that the Shane Morris events showed that Michigan (and other schools) needed to place a medical staffer up in the press box, armed with several TV monitors, to watch the field below for any on-field event which might raise some suspicion that some head or concussion injury may have occurred. The press release later issued by Michigan pronounced that Michigan would commit to having just such a press box medical monitor at every home game.

I am proposing another simple step to allow better assessment of potential football concussion injuries. I was led to this thinking because I found this interview of Michigan sideline neurologist Dr. Jeff Kutcher, reported last Thursday in the Detroit News, so disquieting. Continue reading

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Michigan’s Brandon & MSU’s Hollis Proposal to NCAA: Let Us Fill Empty Seats on TV with “Photoshopped” Students

Michgan AD David Brandon and his Michigan State counterpart, Mark Hollis, held a joint press conference today to announce that they’ve joined forces to submit what they called a “creative, new” proposal for legislation to be included in the Power 5 governance structure by January 1:  to allow student crowd images on TV to be “photoshopped-in.”

Both AD’s have been plagued by the failure on the part of students at both schools to attend and remain in attendance at football games.

MSU AD Mark Hollis

MSU AD Mark Hollis

Hollis tweeted at 6:05 p.m. last Saturday about his dissatisfaction with MSU students’ failure to remain in attendance for all four quarters of MSU’s 27-22 victory over Nebraska Saturday night:

“I spoke with many students & they share my disappointment and embarrassment of the support coming from the southeast corner on Saturday.”

Michigan AD David Brandon

Michigan AD David Brandon

Brandon’s problem has been to get the Michigan students to even show up at all. Student attendance has decreased from an average of 21,000 to around 13,000 per game, and many of those who do attend also depart early. It appears as though some, if not much of the decrease resulted from the athletic department’s unilateral decision to change from the long-standing system which had located freshman in the end zone, and seniors on over toward the 50 (which allowed friends to sit together), to a first–come, first-serve system. And prices were jacked from $35 to $45 per game. Both Michigan and MSU, along with Ohio State, have seen gradual decreases in student attendance since 2009. Continue reading

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Big 12 Bowlsby’s $25,000 Fine of ISU AD Jamie Pollard Jumps the Gun

The $25,000 fine imposed by commissioner Bob Bowlsby upon Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard for suggesting at a post-game press conference that his team was ‘jobbed’ by the referees in Saturday’s 37-20 loss to Oklahoma State at first appears appropriate.  But, in light of the startling breadth of Pollard’s clearly unique charge of conference-wide corruption, it is premature.

I’ll admit that Pollard’s post-game claim that ISU had been “jobbed” by the referees made him look the kind of fellow who endlessly fiddles the dial of the funky old floor-model RCA tube radio late at night, confident he’ll pick up from the airwaves the same alien voices he’ll swear to you he’s picked up many times before.

But I’ll argue that Pollard’s charges were not just serious. They were unique, as compared to the occasional but somewhat common post-game coach outbursts about officiating, usually focused upon one or two allegedly bad calls in the game just completed. Continue reading

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Notre Dame ‘Academic 5″ Case Shows Why Player Accused of Academic Violation Should Revoke FERPA Waiver

It’s been almost two months since  Notre Dame first disclosed that a group of players were suspected of academic impropriety, and that Honor Code investigations and proceedings were ongoing. Schools typically are quite tight-lipped about many topics, including player injuries, so that Notre Dame’s chattiness about charges which were entirely unproven was puzzling.

Notre Dame appears to have done its homework now, since the school just announced yesterday that the results of the investigations would not be released by the school to the public. The players involved should have, once notified that suspensions was going to happen, immediately informed the school that the FERPA waiver which they executed as a part of the “Student-Athlete Statement” which they sign each year was revoked — which would make clear to the school that it had no authority to release any information about the charges. Continue reading

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How ISU AD Jamie Pollard and Edward Snowden Are Alike: Civil Disobedience and Whistleblowing the Whistleblowers

Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard, in state of obvious high dudgeon, today commandeered the post-game press conference podium, usually first given to the head coach, to deliver his judgment:

“Iowa State takes great pride in how we conduct our business.”

I had assumed that this was a sport. But, go on.

“Those of you who know me personally know that I work really hard to make sure my staff and I adhere to that.” Continue reading

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Why Does Notre Dame “Academic 5″ Allow School to Say Anything About Academic Charges?

The five Notre Dame football players (DeVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, Ishaq Williams, Eiler Hardy, and KeiVarae Russell) who have apparently just had “hearings” conducted by Notre Dame to determine the validity of charges of alleged academic impropriety have been now suspended for seven weeks. (With the exception of Hardy, whose suspension began on August 30.)  Assuming they are not guilty of the infractions, the significant national publicity has unnecessarily damaged their status and reputations. Continue reading

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Brandon Bids Brady Bye-Bye

Having been AWOL on player-safety issues, and having taken almost no position on any issue of significance in college sports reform, Michigan AD Brandon set some wheels in motion at 1 a.m. this morning to institute some effective concussion-management protocols, including the Press Box Safety Monitor which I proposed in my post yesterday. Continue reading

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