Opinion

Stories I’d like to see

The revealing Rutgers report, job number revisions, and Trayvon, Inc

Steven Brill
Apr 9, 2013 11:05 UTC

1. The Rutgers basketball coach scandal as a window on NCAA sports:

Some of the stories about the firing of Rutgers basketball coach Michael Rice after a video of him abusing his players in practice was aired on ESPN referred to a 50 page report the university commissioned from an outside lawyer after the videos were first brought to school administrators’ attention. It’s this report that provided the rationale for the school initially to suspend and fine Rice but not dismiss him.

For reporters and columnists (like the New York Times’ Joe Nocera) who have been highlighting how the NCAA has become a profit machine that abuses its unpaid players, the report is worth diving into. It presents an amazingly candid, and grim, view of college athletics, and it would be great to get university presidents far and wide on the record commenting about it.

The report — written by John P. Lacey, the outside lawyer whose firm conducted the investigation — describes the offensive scenes shown on the videos and declares that it is “not acceptable for any coach at any time in a university setting to refer to players using curse words accompanied by slang and derogatory references to homosexuals such as “fags” or “faggots,” etc.” So far, so good. But here’s how the report, whose recommendations the Rutgers administration fully accepted, rationalized not jettisoning Rice:

Based on the credible information provided to us, we find that many of the actions of Coach Rice, while sometimes unorthodox, politically incorrect or very aggressive, were within the bounds of proper conduct and training methods in the context of preparing for the extraordinary physical and mental challenges that players would regularly face during NCAA Division I basketball games. This permissible training includes screaming at players, cursing, using other foul and distasteful language and expressing frustration and even anger at times. It also includes physical contact during drills and unorthodox training methods to simulate the dramatic and unexpected events that occur during actual games.

Really?

The lawyer’s report also contains some fun illustrations of the legal gymnastics lawyers put themselves through at the sacrifice of common sense in the name of political correctness. One example: it seems not to be “harassment” to call someone a “faggot” if you don’t know he’s gay, because in that case you’re not knowingly harassing someone in a “protected class.”

Gingrich’s list, presidential book contracts, and job accounting

Steven Brill
Dec 13, 2011 13:20 UTC

1. Gingrich’s Profits From His “Personal” Mailing List:

The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen did a terrific story last week detailing how former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accumulated large debts early on in his presidential campaign by, among other things, staying in pricey hotels and using hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of private jets. Much of the debt has still not been repaid, Eggen reported. One great nugget that caught my eye could use some follow-up. The Post found that $42,000 of the debt had already been paid – to “Gingrich himself” – for the purchase by his campaign of his “personal” donor and friends mailing list. Handing over a copy of a mailing list involves zero cost, which means that Gingrich – who could legally have given the list to his campaign as an in-kind contribution, according to the Post – apparently pocketed $42,000 in profit from his campaign donors and did so before paying off third-party creditors. I’d love to see a follow-up in which voters, not to mention donors, are asked how they feel about Gingrich pocketing the equivalent of more than 80 percent of the average household income of the voters he is courting.

Oh, and another thing: It has to have been one of Gingrich’s political organizations that paid for the solicitations and other work involved in compiling and maintaining the list, not the former Speaker himself. So, assuming the Post is correct that the money was paid to him personally, how did he get personal ownership of a list that is worth $42,000 every time it is loaned out – and, when he did, did he pay income tax on his receipt of this valuable asset?

2. The Candidates’ Book Deals:

I wonder if any of the Republican presidential candidates who have current books on the market – Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney – have any provisions in their publishing contracts giving them higher advances provided that they stay in the race for a certain period of time. It seems especially possible that this could be a factor in why Cain only suspended his campaign and why Bachmann is hanging on.

  •