The King’s Pass is among the most corrosive of the many unethical rationalizations. Also known as “The Star Syndrome,” this conduct and this sensibility rots organizations, large and small, public and private. It destroys trust and undermines loyalty and performance. The rationalization, which essentially holds that the enforcement of laws, rules and policies should be withheld against the most powerful, the most popular, the most accomplished and the most productive members of an organization on the theory that they are too valuable to lose, is essentially un-American, defying the national principle that all are created equal, and that the laws apply with equal force to everyone, large and small. The King’s Pass isn’t driven by ethics, but by non-ethical considerations overcoming ethics. An organization that jettisons a star will often suffer itself. Management may be criticized, and the sports team, the institution, company, government agency—or nation— that loses its star might suffer substantially with the removal of a significant asset. Yet not insisting on accountability from a misbehaving or even corrupt “star” will have far worse consequences over time.
Sam Ukwuachu, a former freshman All-American at Boise State University before transferring to play football at Baylor University, was convicted this week of sexually assaulting a former Baylor soccer player in 2013. Jurors in Waco’s 54th State District Court found the 22-year-old Baylor defensive end guilty of one count of sexual assault, but it was the revelation of Baylor’s cover-up that ought to resonate.