And The Great Stupid Figures Out How To Feed Itself: The NCAA’s Brilliant Plan

brilliant

I saw this coming. Didn’t you see this coming? Once colleges were told that they could and should treat college athletes as professional athletes, any effort to ensure that they might leave college able to do anything but run, throw, and dunk was on the way out. And so it is.

Last week, an NCAA task force recommended that incoming freshmen in Division I and II sports should no longer be required to meet minimum scores on standardized tests for initial eligibility.

Do you realize how ignorant you have to be to fail to meet the minimum scores?

The recommendation was made by the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, was formed as part of the NCAA’s eight-point plan to advance racial equity. Yes, one sure way to advance racial equity is to let student athletes remain as dumb as marmots.

The Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee will consider the recommendation at their next scheduled meetings in February. “This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” task force chairman David Wilson, president at Morgan State, said in a press release. “We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

Everybody’s doing it! Now there’s a good reason for abandoning higher education for athletes! The ball started rolling in July 2020, when the National Association of Basketball Coaches called for the NCAA to permanently eliminate standardized test scores from eligibility requirements. Naturally, the main concern of basketball coaches is the educational achievements of student players.

“The days of colleges requiring the SAT or ACT are passing rapidly: more than half of all four-year colleges and universities will not require these tests for admissions in 2021, and more are dropping the requirement every week,” the NABC said in a statement at the time. “These tests should no longer be required in the initial-eligibility standards. The tests are again being recognized as forces of institutional racism, which is consistent with their history, and they should be jettisoned for that reason alone; moreover, pragmatics also support this change.”

Writes education blogger Joanne Jacobs, “So the plan is to admit unprepared students who will play football or basketball and leave college without a degree.”

Exactly. After all, a thuggish Minnesota cop accidentally killed a lifetime black hood without any racial motive, so this is a perfect response. And I am Marie of Romania.

The disgusted Ms Jacobs appended a relevant literary reference to her report…

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/23/2021: Farewell Everly Brothers And Other Problems

Don Everly has died, and that’s the end of the Everly Brothers (Phil died years ago), one of the most influential and perhaps the most harmonious singing group of all time. The unique sympathetic vibrations that only sibling singers seem to be able to achieve is a marvelous metaphor for the ethical benefits of teamwork and trust.

This date also marks the demise of another famous duo: despite worldwide demonstrations in support of their alleged innocence, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed for murder in Massachusetts in 1921 .On April 15, 1920, a paymaster for a shoe company in South Braintree was shot and killed along with his guard. The murderers, who escaped with more than $15,000, were described by witnesses as two “swarthy Italian men.” Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the crime. The men carried guns and lied to the police, but neither had a previous criminal record, and they definitely didn’t get a fair trial by modern standards. Prejudice against Italian-Americans was strong, and suspicion of anarchists was stronger. The pair was convicted on July 14, 1921, and sent to the electric chair on August 23.

A TV dramatization of their case, written by Reginald Rose (who authored “Twelve Angry Men”) made a huge impression on me as a child, and sparked the first stirrings of my interest in the law. In 1961, a test of Sacco’s gun using modern forensic techniques proved that it was his gun that killed the guard; he, at least, was guilty, but there was little evidence to implicate Vanzetti in the killing. To make this ethics train wreck complete, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis ignored the evidence of Sacco’s guilt and issued a proclamation exonerating both Sacco and Vanzetti and proclaiming that no stigma should be associated with their names.

Typical of Dukakis.

1. Accountability? What accountability? “Sources”—and I stipulate that un-named “sources” are untrustworthy—tell various news outlets that “President Biden isn’t inclined to fire any senior national security officials over the chaos in Kabul unless the situation drastically deteriorates or there’s significant loss of American life.” That sounds as likely as it is depressing. The reluctance of American Presidents to fire subordinates for gross incompetence has become the norm rather than the exception, and the trend ensures that our government, whoever is the President and whatever party is power, will continue to decline in competence and trustworthiness. Consider President Bush’s refusal to fire any of those responsible for the botched intelligence regarding Iraq’s WMDs, and later Abu Ghraib, or my personal favorite, Barack Obama’s refusal to acknowledge the gross incompetence of Kathleen Sebelius, his Secretary of Health, after her inexcusable reliance on a flawed website to launch the Affordable Care Act.

Dumber still is the qualification “unless the situation drastically deteriorates or there’s significant loss of American life.” Morons. Morons! Whether the situation gets worse or not is pure moral luck; it doesn’t change the utter incompetence of the Afghanistan abandonment. Imagine a babysitter who gives a toddler knives to play with, and a parent whose reaction is, “Well, the kid wasn’t hurt, so there’s no reason to fire her.” That is literally what the reasoning at the White House is…if “sources” are accurate.

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Law vs. Ethics #2: The Supreme Court Unanimously Says Colleges Can Use Tuition To Run A Professional Sports Business

In NCAA v. Alston, handed down yesterday, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) violated the rights of student athletes and the Sherman Antitrust Act by restraining colleges from compensating student athletes. Justice Gorsuch wrote the opinion, upholding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a concurrence.

The decision was a slam dunk for the players. Gorsuch vivisected the NCAA argument that its compensation rules should not be subject to a “rule of reason” analysis because it is a joint venture to offer consumers the unique product of intercollegiate athletic competition. The NCAA has monopoly power in the market, Gorsuch explained, so it deserves no such deference. The NCAA’s argument that it should be exempt because it offers societally important non-commercial benefits is ridiculous on its face, and Gorsuch explained why.

Justice Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion went further:

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April Fools Ethics Warm-Up, 4/1/2021: I Am Not Fooled Nor Fooling

april-fools-day-banner

I have come to detest April Fool’s Day, and cultural developments have shown me that, as William Saroyan liked to say, “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” Early in the history of Ethics Alarms, more than ten years ago, I dared to criticize—indeed, called unethical—a blogging criminal defense lawyer who falsely announced that he had taken on a new prestigious job (as I recall: it’s not worth checking what his exact lie was), and it was then reported as fact by the New York Times’ crack reporters. The announcement was an April Fool’s joke, you see, so my assertion that lawyers shouldn’t deliberately misrepresent facts, even on blogs, even in jest, even unrelated to cases and even on April First was set upon by the lawyer’s angry defense lawyer allies, who pummeled me here from all sides. I had, in fact, over-stated my complaint (Can you imagine ME doing THAT?), and I duly apologized to the lawyer. But his pals remained insulting and vicious, and I wasn’t wrong in the principle I was asserting. Professionals shouldn’t lie, ever. Even on April Fool’s Day.

1. Hart concedes. The rest of the story: Iowa Democrat Rita Hart announced late yesterday that she is withdrawing her demand that her loss in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district be overturned, so the House Committee on Administration will no longer be seeking a justification to do so. I wrote about the Democratic Party’s attempt to de-certify an election result after it proclaimed Republican efforts to decertify the Presidential election as “an insurrection” here. Apparently internal polls were showing that there are still some levels of perceived hypocrisy that the Democratic faithful won’t cheer on. That’s encouraging…

2. The concept at play here is “deceit.” I guess after having three straight Republican Presidents who couldn’t speak clearly, it shouldn’t be a shock that the GOP has allowed Democrats to get away with flagrantly dishonest language games. Still, the transformation of the term “voting restrictions” into something sinister is quite an accomplishment for the Blue team, as well as cynical and dishonest. Unless a nation is going to allow anyone alive on the planet to cast votes in its elections, “voting restrictions” are natural, logical and necessary. It’s the “restrictions” part that the pro-voting manipulation side has weaponized. “Restrictions” are baaaad. But the right, informative and descriptive word is voting qualifications. You have to be alive and living in the district where you vote: this is why voter rolls have to be purged of dead people and those who have moved away. You have to be a citizen, and who you say you are, which is why voting IDs are necessary. You have to register before elections, because otherwise vote harvesters will just pay large groups of poor, confused, bored or drunk passive citizens to the polls to vote as they have been instructed. You should have to vote in person, because all mail-in ballots, including early voting and absentee voting, create verification problems, and increase the chances of fraud.

I have neither the time nor functioning brain cells to delve into this issue competently here and now, but I would not find the imposition of other voting qualifications odious or unethical, including requirements of the minimal civic literacy we would expect of, say, a 12-year-old.

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Tales Of The King’s Pass: The Rick Pitino Saga

My father attended to the University of Louisville for a while, and he was a proud Louisville boy, so the recent fall of the school’s famous basketball coach has a homey ring for me. Fortunately, my father had little use for big time college sports and if he followed college basketball or the fortunes of his old school, he never passed an interest in hoops to me. Mark that as one more thing to be grateful to Dad for. For decades, my lack any rooting interest in college basketball and college football has been driven by the knowledge that  they are both malign corrupting influences on higher education, students, athletes, African-Americans, communities, the sports media, and the nation’s culture. The amazing thing is that the sports don’t even hide it very well.

If you are not aware of the recent college recruitment scandal coming out of Louiville, here’s a short summary. Rick Pitino is perhaps the most famous college men’s basketball coach, and maybe the most celebrated college sports coach generally now that Joe Paterno is gone. (Here’s how closely I follow college sports: there was a time when I thought Pitino and Paterno were the same person, as in “You say Paterno, and I say Pitino…!”—which is ridiculous: Pitino is a cheat, and Paterno let children be molested so he could save his football program from bad publicity.) Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave after the school learned that he was a target of an FBI investigation into fraud and corruption. Yesterday, CBS  identified Pitino as the “Coach-2” who played a role in funneling $100,000 to a U of L  basketball recruit. That player is Brian Bower, and the 1oo grand came from Adidas “at the request of a coach,” apparently Pitino. In case you are really a college sports virgin, the NCAA has strict rules against paying athletes or offering them money to come to a school, unless the money is in the form of a phony scholarship that has nothing to do with education.

The key thing to remember is that nobody is really surprised. Well, nobody is surprised when any big time college  football or college coach is caught in recruiting scandals, but Pitino has been involved in several scandals throughout his career: Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Awards Update: Let Us Not Forget “The Most Unethical University Of 2014,” and The Most Unethical Ethicist Who Helped Make It That Way

The unethical ethicist.

The unethical ethicist.

I finally completed the 6th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards for the Worst of Ethics yesterday, longer and more nauseating than its five predecessors, and also, as I realized when I awoke with a jolt at dawn this morning, more incomplete.

Somehow, I managed to omit two important and prominent awards that were in my notes but managed to elude me when I was preparing the final version. Here they are: I’ll be adding both to the official awards posts today:

Most Unethical University and Worst Academic Scandal of the Year:

The University of North Carolina and its incredible fake courses scheme that for 18 years between 1993 and 2011 allowed more than 3,100 students, 47.6 percent of them athletes, to enrolled in and receive credit for  classes that did not exist.

Least Ethical Ethicist

Prof. Jeanette M. Boxill, a philosophy professor and senior lecturer on ethics  who ran the University of North Carolina’s Parr Center for Ethics, and who somehow decided it was ethical to steer U.N.C.  into fake classes to help them maintain their eligibility with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and actively worked to cover up the scam. Among other aspect of her participation, Boxill  helped players write papers, which the official university report on the conspiracy characterized as stepping across the line of permissible conduct.

Ya think??

The Chronicle of Education article about Boxill’s participation suggests that she rationalized helping the athletes graduate as “the ethics of care,” and a colleague says that she may have “often let her heart guide her.” Her heart guided her to allow students to acquire a degree that misrepresented their academic work to the world, and to perpetuate and further corrupt the already corrupt system of college athletics? Wow. For an ethics professor, she had a remarkably ignorant and unethical heart. She has,blessedly, been fired, and is appealing the decision.

I wonder on what grounds? I don’t think even The Saint’s Excuse (Rationalization #13 on the Ethics Alarms List) applies to her conduct.

The U.N.C. Scandal Accountability: No Punishment, Just “It’s OK…Just Don’t Do It Again”

Oh…and don’t get caught next time.

"BAD University! BAD! OK, that's over---keep on doing your lazy, sloppy job for obscene tuition fees...."

“BAD University! BAD! OK, that’s over—keep on doing your lazy, sloppy job for obscene tuition fees….”

Has the NCAA taken serious action against the University of North Carolina for 18 years of outrageous academic fraud? No.The organization placed the school’s football program on three years’ probation and banned it from the 2012 postseason, but that punishment was for other infractions too. Indeed, it is likely that the revelations about the fake courses credited to athletes and others resulted in no athletic sanctions at all. The NCAA’s position is that this is an academic rather than an athletic scandal. Funny, I seem to recall Penn State getting walloped with massive sanctions from the NCAA because it allowed an ex-assistant football coach to continue molesting little boys. That was a sick organizational culture scandal, and had nothing to do with the players on the field at all.

What would be a proper punishment for 18 years of allowing student athletes to play basketball and football while taking fake courses? I would say the forfeiting of  every game played in by one of those fake students, and 18 years of being banned from inter-collegiate competition. Perhaps then what laughingly calls itself an institution of higher learning might begin to take steps to ensure that its diploma is worth the paper it’s printed on. Continue reading

Ten Questions Regarding The U.N.C. Fake Courses Scandal

fake classes

Have you read about this astounding scandal at the University of North Carolina?

From the Times story:

Wednesday’s report, prepared by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a former general counsel at the F.B.I. and now a partner at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, found that between 1993 and 2011, two employees in the university’s African and Afro-American studies department presided over what was essentially a “shadow curriculum” designed to help struggling students — many of them Tar Heels athletes — stay afloat…More than 3,100 students, 47.6 percent of them athletes, were enrolled in and received credit for the phantom classes, most of which were created and graded solely by a single employee, Deborah Crowder. Ms. Crowder was a nonacademic who worked as the African studies department’s administrator and who told Mr. Wainstein that she had been motivated by a desire to help struggling athletes.Some of the classes took the form of independent study courses in which the students never met the professor; others took the form of lecture courses in which the classes were supposed to meet at specific times and places but never did. Over time, Ms. Crowder was joined in the scheme by the chairman of the department, Julius Nyang’oro, who became the professor of record for many of the fake classes. Mr. Nyang’oro retired in 2012, after news of the scheme came to light.

From CBS: Continue reading

The NCAA Withdraws Its Unethical Sanctions On Penn State

Paterno  Statue

To clear our palates of the nasty aftertaste from the welter of Ethics Train Wrecks crashing though our skulls of late, I thought it might be calming to note the latest settling of the wreckage from one of the worst ETW’s of them all: the Jerry Sandusky-Joe Paterno-Penn State Express.

Yesterday, the NCAA prematurely lifted its remaining sanctions on Penn State, deceptively declaring a victory and retreating because its sanctions were about to be declared illegal. I’m not going to write as much as I normally would about this, because I’d like to send you here, to Glenn Logan’s blog A Sea of Blue, where he covers the matter superbly. Glenn is a longtime visitor at eEthics Alarms, but his own blog keeps him too busy to comment as often as he once did. Not only is he ethically astute and a fine writer, he also is one of the rare bloggers who engages his commenters on a regular basis, a practice I obviously endorse.

When the NCAA decided to ignore its charter and the limits of its powers to slap Penn State with draconian punishment for conduct that had less to do with college athletics and more to do with the ability of a role model’s ability to corrupt a culture, I called it a capitulation to the mob, and wrote… Continue reading

Hypocrites of the Year: The NCAA

Emmert: “Never again will the NCAA be blamed for the results of the culture we encourage and support. We hope.” (Or words to that effect.)

What’s wrong with the NCAA’s epic sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky pederasty scandal? I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days, and I’ve concluded that the answer is “Just about everything.”

Most of the focus of the media and pundits have been on the “punishing the innocent” complaint. As a general rule, I detest aversion to punishing the innocent as a justification for inadequately punishing the guilty or otherwise avoiding necessary steps to address problems; it’s a rationalization for encouraging unethical, exploitive, illegal and even deadly conduct. This toxic rationale has caused incalculable harm across the globe; it currently abets illegal immigration, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and the international crimes of dictators. The United States, within our lifetimes, may drive itself into financial collapse by adopting the theory that it is unfair and unethical to “punish” the expectant beneficiaries of entitlements that the nation can no longer afford by reducing  benefits, or by taxing wealthy citizens who opposed the profligate spending in the first place. As Ethics Bob writes in his post about the Penn State sanctions,

“Accountability for wrongdoing often brings down the innocent along with the guilty. Think about the workers at Enron, Arthur Anderson, or MCI-Worldcom, who lost their jobs when their bosses’ malfeasance destroyed their companies… there is no way of punishing the guilty without harming people close to, or dependent on them. Even a mass murderer–when he is sent away his mother suffers along with him. When Al Qaeda militants are killed, their family members often die with them.”

Bob isn’t making an invalid “everybody does it,” argument, but a practical, “that’s the way the world works” argument.  If we believe in accountability, we have to accept the fact that the innocent will often be collateral damage. It isn’t fair, but this is utilitarianism at its most persuasive. Allowing wrongdoers to  prosper is ethically worse.

If the NCAA sanctions against Penn State were otherwise appropriate, I wouldn’t have a problem with the collateral damage. They aren’t appropriate, however. The sanctions are unethical. Continue reading