Read this piece by Attorney Gene Marsh, entitled “Despite Athletic Excesses, the Academic Mission Prevails,” about his purportedly objective assessment of the Big Ten. This is a low-point for the Chronicle of Higher Education, for whom I have great respect — particularly the fine work of Brad Wolverton.
Marsh’s piece is pure PR -marshmallow fluff. It’s certainly not reporting. So it must fall in the opinion category.
At first glance, it appears as though Marsh went to some flea market of college sports commercial sales with a Geiger Counter set to tick when it discovered any possible hint of real academic or scholarly endeavor — and that Marsh was thrilled when the device ticked once.
Upon second reading, the thought crosses your mind that the genesis for this piece had two roots: 1) Marsh’s dinner with old buddy Big Ten Comish Delany at some white tablecloth New York Yacht Club site; and 2) Marsh having been paid a $500,000 fee for representing Big Ten member OSU in an NCAA infractions case, and then another half a million dollars by Michigan for his work representing them in a COI case. My facts here are, I will admit, imprecise, but roughly correct, and the hour is late.
More to the point, is it unfair to suggest that the Chronicle editors have a duty founded in old journalism ethics to require that Marsh list, at the top (or bottom) of this panegyric to the Big Ten, all of the Big Ten clients he has represented, and how much they have paid him? Without that information, the public is deceived, since the author appears before the unsuspecting reader as though he has no bias whatsoever. I’m a big fan of the Chronicle. But this is a real low point.