The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Speaking of bets, one should never gamble on college sporting events. Not even for fun. Especially if you work in the NCAA. Especially if you're a college football coach, at a big-time program. Even if it's all the way up in Washington. Right, Rick Neuheisel?

This echoes a recent personal experience. I got an email, which was sent to a group of friends, from a long-lost college buddy. Among the updates he shared was the creation of a alumni-only fantasy football league, which he invited everyone to join, just for fun.

One of the recipients responded, to everyone who had gotten the original email, saying that he appreciated the invitation, but as he was an NCAA coach, he was prohibited from participating in any sort of gambling shenanigans. For the record, he is a women's volleyball coach for a Division II school--not exactly the eye of the storm, as far as NCAA politics go.

There were two reasons for this person (let's call him AJ, since that's what his name is) felt compelled to point this out:

1) He's always looking for self-aggrandizing opportunities, and next to name-dropping, this one was almost perfect, since it went out to several of his college peers. As far as I know, no one replied to him to point out that the NCAA is not targeting volleyball coaches anywhere, let alone on the Div. II level, for code-of-conduct violations. Can you say "not on the radar"?

2) As laughable as it is, his stated reason for declining to join in is valid. While NCAA central isn't going to go out of its way to nab a lower-level coach, if word somehow got around, then yes, AJ would be jeopardizing his job. Even small-potatoes like this constitutes an ethical breach, and would be grounds for dismissal.

Frankly, I put up a similar defense once. When I was working in the sports department at the St. Pete Times several years back, I was playing in a football pool among friends. Email had really just come into vogue at that time, and so everyone was shooting off emails to everyone else, including on the subject of the pool. With fresh memories of a recent gambling scandal in the department, resulting in a couple of people losing their jobs, I was getting nervous about getting those kinds of mails at work, even though the gambling connection was tenuous (I believe the stakes for the pool were simple bragging rights). So I did send out a mail to everyone involved telling them to not include me in the email loop--although I did remain in the pool. However, I didn't do it in mind of intimating that I was in position laden with responsibilities that prevented me from mingling with the little people--which was the real intent in this case.