The buck stops, but only eventually.
The highest level
That is why NCAA president Mark Emmert, the Ultimate Hypocrite, should see his job in trouble, too. His organization is the police, judge and jury of college sports — of others’ misdeeds. Yet the NCAA’s own corrupted handling of the ongoing Miami/Nevin Shapiro case has been tainted by admitted wrongdoing that has led to independent investigations and internal firings.
Emmert’s own investigative staff broke rules, but there he sits imperially, impervious, as if the rules of responsibility do not apply to him as they applied to the Penn State president, or the folks at Rutgers who knew they had a volatile, ball-throwing, shoving, gay-slur-shouting bully for a basketball coach.
Which brings us back around to Miami, and to that sign on Harry Truman’s desk.
UM president Donna Shalala is a respected and powerful woman. She has served in a presidential cabinet. She is deeply connected. And she has seemed to do everything right ever since the Shapiro scandal broke. She has pledged cooperation with the NCAA. She has self-imposed sanctions against her school to help mitigate future penalties. And she has vigorously decried the NCAA’s abuse of power and argued against further punishment.
Shalala has been out front on this in every way, proactive, even combative when called for.
She has taken the offensive in a way that has been the best, smartest defense against her own responsibility in all of this. I don’t mean this has been her plan, merely the effective result. It is harder to point fingers at a woman standing up to shake a righteous fist on your behalf.
So Penn State’s president lost his job, and the NCAA president should, and the Rutgers president might, but the pressure on Shalala has been negligible, even though Shapiro’s actions across eight or nine years happened, ultimately, on her watch.
I am not saying this scandal should cost Shalala her job. I do not believe it will, or should.
But in today’s climate, the idea it could is not preposterous.
If UM is hit hard with additional penalties, at some point the university would have to come to grips with the notion it wasn’t the bumbling NCAA or even the nefarious Shapiro most to blame for what happened as much as it was the school’s own protracted lack of oversight.
In a situation like that the buck tends to rise, and on whose desk it stops, nobody knows.