Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Closer: Student-Athlete welfare continually put on the back burner

As I watched coverage of the Rutger's Coaching scandal last week, I couldn't help but think about former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti's thought process. He watched 30 minutes of practice video showing constant physical, verbal, and emotional abuse by former head coach Mike Rice and decided that a three-game suspension and a measly $50,000 fine was sufficient?

Former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice
Later, Pernetti defended his decision by arguing that not only was Rice not coaching, he was not allowed on campus. Yes, the man that abused countless players for years was not allowed on campus for all of 12 days. Why was his suspension so short? Pernetti claims that he thought the counseling
Rice was in had worked and he had stopped his abusive behavior. Could it have been that Rutger's was just about to announce their move to the Big 10 and couldn't risk the scandal getting out?

Former Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti
Speaking of their conference change...Yes, Rutgers will make A LOT more money every year in the Big 10 thanks to TV contracts and bigger national tournament shares, but at what cost? The Scarlett Knights will have to play 10 road games, with the closest games being at Penn State and Maryland, both about four hours away. On the long end of road trips will be to Minnesota and Nebraska, both will definitely require flying and at least 2-3 days of missed class, especially if the game is held in the middle of the week.

These issues outlines a larger one: student-athlete welfare. Clearly, Rutgers is not on the front line of putting their athletes first. Firstly, their highest University and Athletic Department officials are putting athletes well being at risk by making bad personnel decisions. Secondly, they are entering a conference that will require an insane amount of travel compared to their current conference (if you could call it that), the Big East.

On top of all of this, with new NCAA rules being put into place within the coming years, including an increased GPA requirement and stricter out of class study time, more and more pressure is being put on the STUDENT-athletes.

Although I am kind of calling out Rutgers in this post, it is important to recognize that the issues they are having are not focused; they are very universal. Conference realignment is a phenomenon that will earn a lot of schools a lot more money, but at what cost?

P.S. Although this has nothing to do with student-athlete welfare I feel like it needs to be said:
Please tell me you have all seen Tim Pernetti's settlement package?
  • $1.2 million in the next month even if he takes another job
  • $12,000 per year car allowance for the next 14 months
  • Health Insurance and pension payments through October 2015
  • iPad and laptop computer
Man, Timmy boy really learned his lesson the hard way. Not only did he not get fired, allowing him to settle out the rest of his contract, but he also will be earning $1.2 million in the next month, get a free car and some health insurance for the next year, and an iPad. Oh yeah, and Rutgers is a state-funded institution, so this settlement is coming out of taxpayer dollars. All of this for a man that resigned because of a mistake HE made that put student-athlete's health in jeopardy. This may be a crazy statement, but I am pretty sure it is the Athletic Directors JOB to protect his athletes, not cover up an abusive coach in the second biggest sport at his University.


Kevin Murray is a sophomore Sport Management Major at Drexel University. He is originally from Havertown, PA, a small suburb of Philadelphia. He worked in the Drexel Sport Management Department as a Research Assistant focusing on the Penn State scandal, equity in collegiate sports, and Title IX.  Currently, Kevin is the SMTSU Treasurer and Drexel Athletics Marketing Intern.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinj_murray.

Connect with Kevin Murray on LinkedIn.

1 comment:

  1. Extremely well written review! I think you should maybe offer some solutions in your next writeup