Friday, February 15, 2008

Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell

When T.K Wetherell became President of Florida State in 2003, he inherited an athletics program which did not so much resemble a carpet under which a great deal of dirt had been swept as an overflowing cesspool. There is much to criticize about his tenure, but, giving credit where credit is due, that cesspool has now almost completely drained. Even before the cheating scandal broke in the fall, he had taken steps to remove former Athletic Director David Hart Jr., who had been hired under the former regime, action which now appears to display remarkable foresight. Yesterday, Wetherell, and new Athletic Director Randy Spetman announced the self-imposed punishments for the sordid behavour of the Athletic Department's academic support staff. The following piece by Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel is only slightly hyperbolic:
There was a time when I believed "self-imposed punishment" was the biggest oxymoron in sports since recruiting ethics, fun run and student-athlete. That all changed Thursday.

Did you see what the Florida State Masochists did? They didn't just slap themselves on the wrist; they slashed themselves on the wrist. They took the hammer of justice and hit themselves squarely between the eyes with it. They took the parental paddle and administered several butt-stinging whacks on their own backsides. They looked down at the speedometer, saw they were speeding and suspended their own driver's license.

Good for Florida State for not whitewashing an academic scandal that has created a black cloud over the entire university. Good for school President T.K. Wetherell for refusing to candy-coat a cheating ring that has jeopardized FSU's national reputation as an institution of higher learning. . . .

Admit it, you thought Florida State was going to come out with a list of meaningless, milquetoast sanctions, didn't you? You know, penalties like (1) No postseason appearances by the coed water polo team, (2) The track and field team loses one steeplechase scholarship and, (3) The immediate disbandment of the Darryl Dickey Fan Club. . . .

Hopefully this internal investigation will derail critics of Wetherell who claim he is a university president who meddles too much in athletic affairs. In general, these accusations may have some merit, but in this specific case Wetherell did what he had to do. . . .
It is his responsibility. I applaud him for his 'meddling'. There is too little of it.
He knew he couldn't afford to let athletic department officials handle this matter, because he saw how ineptly they investigated the Adrian McPherson gambling transgressions a few years ago. If Wetherell made a mistake, it was leaving the athletic department hierarchy intact after the McPherson incident was embarrassingly allowed to blow up into a full-fledged federal investigation.

This time, though, Wetherell left nothing to chance. He and his staff took charge of the academic investigation as soon as they got wind athletes were involved. And instead of trying to sweep it under the rug, they took the rug out back and beat the dirt out of it with a baseball bat. . . .

Back in another time during another scandal, former Florida coach Steve Spurrier mockingly referred to FSU as Free Shoes University. But after seeing the course Wetherell charted during this internal investigation, another acronym comes to mind.

FSU -- Forceful, Stringent, Uncompromising.
Perhaps, Dr. Wetherell, it is time to dispose of Bobby Bowden as well?

1. FSU Cheating Scandal
2. Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell
3. STUDENT-Athlete Garrett Johnson Fires Both Barrels
4. No Sunshine in Florida?
5. FSU Scandal: Brenda Monk Breaks Her Silence

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