Michigan Football Recruiting: A Recruiting Synopsis — Part II
The Floating Ghost of Ethics
In coaching classes all across the nation, young (usually so) and eager (always) college students listen to various experienced coaches discuss the art and science of football. Somewhere along the journey, the construct of ethics, as related to the coaching profession, is defined and discussed. Usually the time allotment for ethics is short, out of a need for time to disperse knowledge, processes, and skills needed for minimal success in the coaching profession. Some universities have separate courses to amend the deficiency.
The world of the theoretical soon turns into the world of the practical, as survival ascends beyond mental philosophical dogma. There are many areas of sports ethics: coach conduct is at the center of all aspects. Coach conduct can affect the student athlete, the institution, his or her family, and, of course, the self.
Make no mistake, most coaches understand and practice ethics. The high school coach may be the shining light within the coaching family tree. There are exceptions, but the love of the sport and the desire to fuel success in youngsters dominates a niche that is underpaid and under-appreciated. The glory and money goes to the next levels, university and professional. As with all ventures, extra money brings extra expectations and more willingness to bend ethics into a view that is self-serving. Therefore, excellent mentoring and doing things the proper way unfortunately does not always equate to success: it can,
So, at the university level, money and institutional ego has led to a game one can call “upping the ante on the next guy.” Find a way, find a way to get ahead of the other guy, find a way to win, and finding a way to win may start with recruiting.
Recruiting over the decades has become like the classic western line, “You dirty rotten, yellow-bellied coward.” The assertions, implications, and inferences about other entity’s (the opposition) recruiting methods would be too long and tiresome to document and read. Save it to say that several common themes emerge, none really are that new in thought:
- Dirty yellow-bellied rotten cowards cheat – we do not.
- Who cares, just win.
- Everyone cheats.
Well, the first statement can have a wide range of accuracy, the second is part of the problem, and the third is just not so, some programs are ivory soap quality.
Repeating that the center of ethics is the well being of the student athlete, the occasional shady world of recruiting runs along a continuum of a self-serve check out counter to high-pressure car salesmanship. But eventually a student athlete will make a decision of college choice, and the higher the level of competition; the less pure personal choice will play in the final pronouncement. Some recruits are magnetized toward one institution, but most hope that some on-board directional system helps them make the right choice.
Enter the recruiter, or much more accurately, enter the recruiters. The higher the ability of the athlete, the greater becomes the number of recruiters, until a recruit can literally be declared a lottery prize.
The cure-all was supposed to be a well-organized body of ethical institutions that self- regulated and self punished. Unfortunately, this concept has decayed faster than a dead deer in a rain forest. So, the world of college football recruiting and regulation is in limbo, especially so with the addition of extraneous and potentially landscape changing events such as the O’Bannon and others lawsuit. Amateurism may be redefined. The scope of recruiting, impropriety, and coaching is now so broad that the barn gate is open and the horse is walking toward either, depending on your philosophy, daylight or darkness.
There used to be a clear line for recruiting ethics that if crossed by an institution, consequences would certainly result. The last few incidents of high profile programs facing penalties and sanctions have demonstrated that institutions of this nature cannot even be slowed down, let alone damaged by the formerly dreaded NCAA sanction tag. Some institutions are not even embarrassed with the finding of ethical violations and fight tooth and nail to avoid or reduce potential damage to the football money machine.
Perhaps the last thing to consider as readers ponder the frustrating genre of college sports ethics is this: Should a college have a director of compliance or a director of non- compliance?
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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