Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Under Further Review: Extending Steubenville Head Coach Saccoccia

When looking back to see how media and public outcry can shape decisions by educational institutions, you really do not have to look too far.  Florida Atlantic University dropped the GEO Group from the naming rights sponsorship on their football stadium after the public outcry against having a for-profit prison system as the school's most visible sponsor.  Rutgers University fired head basketball coach Mike Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned after release of a video tape showing Rice acting in abusive ways towards players in practice which caused quite the stir in the public.

Could Steubenville High School football coach Reno Saccoccia be the next in line for a public firing?

Earlier in the week, Saccoccia (controversially) signed a two year contract extension to remain Steubenville's head football coach.  The same Steubenville that was struck by the infamous rape case that swept the country.

The case has rocked the nation in part because of the disturbing details and images that have come from the case and in part because it has shined a bright spotlight on the irreverent teenage jock culture.  It rocked the nation because two 16 year old kids were charged and sentenced to prison time for the rape of a teenage girl at a high school party.  Even the internet activism group Anonymous got involved.

Upsetting many was the evidence that showed these boys thinking they could get away with their actions.  As the now infamous text message sent by Trent Mays, the quarterback of Steubenville's football team and one of the two sentenced, reads, "I got Reno. He took care of it and shit ain't gonna happen, even if they did take it to court. Like he was joking about it so I’m not worried."

Mays caught much of the initial flack for this text message because it so eloquently begins to paint the picture of the entitlement that the jock culture perceives.  But look at who Mays turned to... Coach Reno Saccoccia.  

Regardless of the fact that the players were sentenced just last month, the timing of the coach's two year contract extension is even more curious.  Saccoccia is under investigation for obstructing the case because he may not have reported what he had heard.  Essentially, he may have been involved in attempting to cover up the case.  Some compare him to the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno.

(Online petition has nearly 135,000 signatures to oust Steubenville's Saccoccia.)

The spotlight that Saccoccia was under has now become much brighter and it will continue to grow brighter as the Grand Jury's decision on the obstruction charge nears.  The school board that approved the deal looks even more out of touch with reality.  

We have seen this all too many times.  An institution has the opportunity to take a stand against an injustice that is much bigger than themselves yet chooses to put themselves before the injustice and before society as a whole.  Saccoccia may have won a bunch of football games, but he has failed in molding these young men.  If Saccoccia ends up being charged with obstruction of justice, Steubenville High School will find themselves in the middle of another media firestorm. 

And Saccoccia should find himself searching for a job just like all of the others.


Kevin Rossi is a pre-junior Drexel Sport Management major with a minor in Communications. Kevin has worked at Double Eagle Golf where he is now Social Media Coordinator and Comcast-Spectacor as their market research intern. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to Vice President. Currently, Kevin is a staff writer for Philahoops.com, and he has joined Temple University Athletics Communications for co-op this spring/summer.  Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Connect with Kevin Rossi on LinkedIn.

No comments:

Post a Comment