An old European proverb says, “A fish rots from the head.”
The University of Louisville’s athletics program has undergone a number of scandals the last few years. Some have involved its men’s basketball team, but other teams have made the headlines for the wrong reasons. There was a mini-scandal when the school’s women’s lacrosse coach was besmirched by accusations of verbal abuse, and the school three years ago hired the volatile Bobby Petrino as its head football coach.
But it took a scandal involving strippers and teenage basketball recruits, plus an FBI investigation into the misuse of federal funds, that led to the resignation of Louisville president James Ramsey.
There have been different scandals over the years involving college sports: point shaving, inappropriate use of social media, hazing, and even criminal activity. Most have resulted in sanctions against the team or against select individuals.
But rare is the instance when the lack of institutional control in the athletic department has blown back to affect the administration of an entire university.
It’s something that has not happened to a number of scandal-ridden institutions such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee. It took years of reporting and a sudden focus of attention by the U.S. Justice Department to force massive changes within FIFA and several continental soccer federations.
And despite what looks to be a disastrous Rio Olympics, plus drug and bidding scandals dating back decades, IOC committee members sit back on their shiny thrones, making more and more outrageous demands.
Which are not far removed from the demands placed on university presidents by men’s basketball and football coaches.