Ohio State handled the Urban Meyer affair well.
That’s a difficult task, in this day of instant messaging and a pervasive “string em up mentality.”
Generally, there are two immediate responses - gleeful malice and angry denial. The reason lies in our amygdala. You should read this (don’t worry, it’s a cartoon...):
Don’t underestimate the impact of social media in these situations. It puts enormous pressure on university leadership. Schools are forced to choose between expedient resolution and ideal resolution.
The University of North Carolina took the expedient resolution in the way handled its cheating scandal. The investigation turned up 18 years of academic fraud, but the University walked away scott free.
The university sacrificed a few lambs, but no one of note was even chastised:
Chapel Hill officials say they put their house in order years ago. Following a damning independent investigation, which was concluded in 2014, the university disciplined or fired seven people. The most senior among them was a Roberta (Bobbi) Owen, the senior associate dean for undergraduate education, who was barred from any future administrative duties but remains a distinguished professor of dramatic art.
It’s expedient to believe that a senior associate dean masterminded 18 years of academic fraud for UNC athletics…but it isn’t ideal.
However, in Ohio State’s situation, they had a high-profile coach lying to the media about knowledge of physical abuse by an assistant football coach. If this isn’t Ohio State and Urban Meyer, it wouldn’t be a national story. If it was a department chair of physics at Youngstown State, we wouldn’t know or care.
But because it is the head coach of an iconic football program, everyone weighs in. Talking heads of all stripes wrap themselves in the false flag of morality to flog this story for all the clicks that they can beat out of it.
We’ve seen this before.
Larry Nassar at Michigan State. Sandusky at Penn State. Bernie Fine at Syracuse (another example of expediency). Nevin Shapiro at Miami.
Few of these situations were handled well. Some were buried. Some were flogged to death. Ohio State handled its situation far better than any of them to date.
You may not like the tone of the press conference or the three game suspension. That’s fine. It’s not about you as a fan or you as an outraged human being. It’s about getting the decision right for the health and welfare of the University going forward.
Remember, they fired the assistant coach.
The rest of it wasn’t about abuse, it was about Urban Meyer lying. The decision to punish him for those actions was correct. And the punishment, while not ideal, was well thought out. The University also took steps to deal with gender-based abuse and harassment. Not ideal, maybe reactionary, but a good step none-the-less.
That is leadership done right.
P.S. As a Penn State fan, you know it sucked to write this. But this wasn’t about football.
This was about putting on your grown-up undies and doing the right thing. There were many parallels to IT. The rush to judgement being the BIG ONE.
The photo of the sign of unyielding loyalty is meant to be ironic. Being good at football yields unquestioning loyalty from too many people. However, being good at football does not mean you are a good person.
This took some work to get through. However, I reiterate: OSU’s leadership did a good job on this.