A Modest Proposal: Stating The Obvious

August 1, 2018 – Ex-ESPN employee Brett McMurphy reports (via Facebook) that Ohio State University Head Football Coach (and Bob Evans Head Breakfast Coach) Urban Meyer lied when he told reporters that he was unaware of domestic abuse allegations against his wide receivers coach, Zach Smith.

McMurphy uses extensive text messages, photos, and communications, including from Coach Meyer’s wife to the alleged victim, Ms. Smith, to establish his story over a period of almost a decade.

Coach Meyer has since been placed on administrative leave.

****

September 20, 2016 – Michigan State University fires Dr. Larry Nassar amidst growing claims that he abused young women in his role as doctor for US Gymnastics and Michigan State Athletics.  This, after formal complaints were brought to the university in 2014 and informal complaints were allegedly brought as early as 1997.

Michigan State then agrees to pay $500 million to more than 300 alleged victims of Dr. Nassar.

Multiple university administrators have since been fired, charged, retired or placed on leave.

***

November 4, 2011 – Penn State University defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is indicted for sexual abuse of young boys.

In the course of his trial and related investigations it is determined that university leadership, including Head Coach Joe Paterno, knew of Sandusky’s extensive abuse from at least 1998, and failed to inform the authorities or otherwise limit Sandusky’s ability to continue his activities.

On November 9, 2011, Joe Paterno is fired from his role as head football coach of Penn State University, dying less than three months later.

***

Three “Big Ten” schools. Three conspicuous silences.

And all over the course of not even seven full years.

Why didn’t these three great and storied “Big Ten” institutions say…anything?  To anyone?  Over decades?

What prevented these august bodies from acting with the leadership, moral fiber, and institutional fortitude which they obviously possess in incalculable abundance?

How can we prevent this tragic story, this tale of higher learning victimized by cruel circumstance and unknowable fate, from happening again?

And could it be, as some have suggested, that simple self-interest and aggrandizement caused these institutions to ignore the obvious simply to better their own names?

Would that it were so simple.

But…bettering their own names might nevertheless be at the heart of the matter.

***

Let us look at the 14 members of the Big Ten athletic conference:

  • Indiana University
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska
  • Northwestern University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Wisconsin

Notice anything?  Anything at all?

How about now?

  • Indiana University
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan STATE University
  • Ohio STATE University
  • Penn STATE University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska
  • Northwestern University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Wisconsin

Three schools, otherwise the height of virtue and honor, nevertheless unable to *state* for authorities the malfeasance that they could not but help to have identified.

Imagine the torment.  The pain.  The suffering.

These schools are the real victims here.

Victims of a hex, a curse, an incantation, placed upon the noblest of us by the most ignoble.

Through their very names.

State

What other reason could there be?  Self-aggrandizement?  Self-interest?  A conference-wide cultural issue?

Our noble institutions and athletic conferences stand above such things.

No.  Three beleaguered bodies.  Three schools bearing the appellation “State”.  And all unable to save themselves solely because they lack the ability to “state” what is clear and obvious in front of each of them.

Coincidence?  Cruelest fate.

We can never know who perpetrated this injustice, who forced dozens of administrators, boards, coaches, and officials to remain silent, who prevented even a scintilla of action from these institutions which otherwise could have prevented so much wrong, and all with a simple cursed word.

But thankfully with the issue identified, the solution presented is as plain as the desire to speak out must have been for those inside these poor, cursed organizations.

Of course, they cannot simply drop the “State”.

There already exists a Penn, a Michigan, and an Ohio, after all, and there’s no reason to curse, say, Ohio University with such malignant and reckless indifference purely by association.

No.  These schools, victims of circumstance and fate such as they are, will need new names to differentiate themselves from their geographic brethren.

So, something else.  A new banner to describe these new institutions.

Perhaps…”facilitation”.

*The* Ohio Facilitation University.

I can hardly imagine a more apt solution than renaming to good old “F-U”.

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