After spending the weekend feuding with football players and trashing Sen. John McCain, on Monday night President Donald Trump turned his attention to the devastation still faced by several regions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
The headlines about football players and chronic traumatic encephalopathy – commonly known as CTE – seem endless. The most recent diagnosis of the neurodegenerative brain disease’s – was given to former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez. But one of the biggest obstacles in understanding CTE has been the inability to diagnose it in the living. New research released Tuesday may make that possible. Published in the journal PLOS One, researchers have found a protein that can be a marker of this devastating disease.
According to the FBI complaints made public, the four coaches involved are Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Southern California assistant Tony Bland, Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson and Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans. USA TODAY Sports
At the end of college basketball’s Final Four in San Antonio next April, the winning players and coaches will cut down the nets and make snow angels in the confetti covering the floor, just as they always do. Then One Shining Moment will play, alumni will choke up with tears and NCAA officials will bask in the glory of their annual showcase event.
But this time will be different than all the others before it.
No matter who wins or loses, high-level college basketball was unmasked Tuesday as a magnet for corruption, bribery and kickbacks it always has been behind the scenes. It took an FBI sting operation, a financial adviser turned cooperating witness and a shoe company so eager to cut deals and pull strings with prospects that the dots weren’t even very hard for prosecutors to connect.
Though four assistant coaches were arrested and charged with crimes, we’re still a long way from figuring out all the implications here, from the number of coaches that eventually will be roped into the scandal to how much shrapnel will hit the schools that employed them. The tentacles already have reached some of biggest names in the sport including an assistant for the preseason No. 1 team in Arizona, a Louisville prospect’s recruitment and an assistant who helped build the roster South Carolina took to the Final Four last season.
But the ultimate fallout will reveal a more fundamental, existential issue for college basketball and the NCAA to reckon with: What does it say about your sport that conduct long considered standard, and even necessary, to win the highest levels is considered illegal by the federal government of the United States?
RICK PITINO: Louisville tenure marked by highs, off-court lows
As the indictments came down Tuesday morning, athletics directors from the 10 conferences that make up the Football Bowl Subdivision were gathering at a $600 per night hotel in Washington, D.C., for their annual meetings under the umbrella of an organization (LEAD1) that shifted its primary focus this year to lobbying Congress in case the gravy train of college athletics somehow gets derailed by the courts.
Let’s just say the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Though only a handful of schools will show up on the ESPN ticker or be mentioned by the network news, including Auburn, Arizona, Southern California and Oklahoma State, there is no university president, athletic administrator or coaching staff in the country that should feel safe today.
At a news conference in New York, U.S. attorney Joon Kim referred to the “dark underbelly of college basketball” that was exposed in the indictments. And though it took the investigative tools of the FBI to bring it out of the shadows, what he outlined as a criminal scheme is what college basketball coaches have long referred to as, quite simply, how things get done.
No, it’s not every program. It’s not every head coach. It’s not every prospect.
But when the NCAA and the NBA ceded the entire responsibility of grassroots basketball to the shoe companies, they could use it to cultivate relationships with top players and legally fund the teams that were shuttling prospects to tournaments where college coaches could watch them by day and representatives of agents and financial advisers could meet them at night. Those meetings could take place in hotel rooms, restaurants, casinos, even bathrooms, without the NCAA having a prayer of regulating how the money was rolling downhill. And if you didn’t have a way to get into that game, whether it’s an agent wanting a potential client under the protective eye of a friendly coach or a shoe company representative bridging the gap between the grassroots program they fund and a college program they sponsor, you likely had no shot landing the top players in the country.
The indictment details a classic example that seems to describe Louisville’s recruitment of five-star prospect Brian Bowen but could easily be the template for dozens of recruitments every year. Essentially, the government alleges that “at the request of at least one coach from University-6 (purported to be Louisville),” the defendants in the case including a former NBA agent, an Adidas executive and a financial planner “agreed to funnel $100,000 (payable in four installments) from Company-1 to the family of Player-10. Shortly after the agreement with the family of Player-10 was reached in late May and early June, Player-=10 publicly committed to University-6).”
The evidence for that claim was found on a wiretap of of Christian Dawkins, the former agent. And as news of that allegation spread Tuesday morning, it didn’t take long for reporters to uncover an interview from this June in which Rick Pitino described to Terry Meiners of 840 AM radio in Louisville how he landed Bowen.
“We got lucky on this one,” Pitino said. “I had an AAU director call me and ask if I’d be interested in a player. I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said, ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I’ve been.”
That quote alone is damning in light of this investigation, and if the allegations are true it should finally get Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich fired after they have already survived multiple scandals that would have done in less powerful people.
They probably won’t be the only ones to lose their careers in disgrace.
But the big names that will eventually get drawn into this, whether through more witnesses flipping or the FBI’s new tip line, are more than individual actors who will wear the NCAA’s scarlet letter while the rest of the sport beats its chest about doing things the right way.
That’s not how this scandal is going to play out.
For the first time, an organization with the motivation and the resources to pull back the curtain on widespread corruption in college sports has revealed what everybody kind of knew but couldn’t exactly prove.
Today, everybody wakes up in an entirely new world: coaches wondering if the FBI is listening to their phone calls, administrators wondering who their employees are making deals with, fans wondering about the real stories behind all those crazy recruitments they’re addicted to following.
It’s entirely too early to say what that means or where it goes, but the biggest charade in the history of college sports has now been shattered, along with careers and reputations and the illusion of amateurism that brought billions into college sports.
Yes, One Shining Moment will still play next April when college basketball crowns its champion. But it will be impossible to escape the feeling that the song’s third line — “you’re running for your life” — is now the most relevant of them all.
People of Bangladesh support democracy but at the same time many also believe in sharia law as they believe it might be helpful in ensuring justice and fairness in governance, said a new survey.
“Although Bangladeshis support democracy, many also believe that introducing sharia, or Islamic law based on the Quran and the Hadith, might be helpful in ensuring justice and fairness in governance,” said the survey conducted by the RESOLVE Network.
The Washington-based RESOLVE Network, an initiative of the Global Research Network on Conflict, published the report styled “Democracy and Sharia in Bangladesh: Surveying Support” yesterday.
The report was authored by Dr Ali Riaz, professor of the Department of Politics and Government at the Illinois State University, USA, and Syeda Salina Aziz, senior research associate of Brac Institute of Government and Development.
Conducted in April 2017, this research is based on a face-to-face representative survey of 4,067 households in Bangladesh.
Respondents indicated an overwhelming support for key democratic principles, such as elected representatives, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and assembly, and property rights.
The report said two points clearly emerged from analysing the survey data — Bangladeshis unequivocally support democratic values and sharia as a mode of good governance.
Weak democratic institutions, particularly perceived lack of judicial independence, appear to be providing opportunities for advocates to demand a greater role for sharia in the legal system.
At the same time, 91 percent thought elected representation was a core democratic principle.
“There is a strong association between Sharia and good governance; more than 80 percent of respondents agreed with the statements that Sharia would ensure basic service provision, personal security, and justice, as well as discourage corruption,” the report said.
It also said many do not feel they are being fairly governed by the elected representatives.
The report concludes that the discrepancy between the popular perception of the attributes of democracy and the actual state of democracy in Bangladesh, as revealed by this survey, is a source of concern.
“Elected representatives and an independent judiciary were regarded as important institutions by those who participated in this survey; however, large numbers of respondents believed these two crucial elements of democracy were not functioning well in Bangladesh.”
Photo Credit: Chueasuwan Phunsawat / Shutterstock
“[Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s documentary] The Vietnam War … will doubtless shape popular memory of the conflict for years to come,” writes the veteran activist and historian Maurice Isserman in Dissent. Although Isserman praises the television series, now showing nightly on PBS, for exposing the war’s duplicity and brutality, he laments that its depiction of anti-war protesters leaves “the impression that hundreds of thousands of Americans… were indeed swearing allegiance to Chairman Mao… rather than, say, exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizens to challenge a war that they regarded as inconsistent with American interests and values.”
Negative depictions of anti-war protesters in 1969 anticipated denigrations of Iraq war opponents in 2003 and of today’s campus protestors against racism and sexism—and soon, very possibly, another blundering war. While some protesters do act counter-productively and destructively, Isserman is right to warn that caricatures of them are even more destructive to democracy.
I’ve previously written about my own first encounter with brave, constructive anti-Vietnam war protest one wintry morning in 1968. Since The Vietnam War does emphasize what was wrong in the anti-war movement, let me say something about what was right.
“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” 27-year-old Vietnam veteran John Kerry asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971. But the war wasn’t a “mistake,” it was a systemic and ideologically driven lie, prompted by premises and practices that had been “made in America” and that were metastasizing even within the anti-war movement. Bitterness among those determined not to be Kerry’s “last man” prompted vengeful slogans such as “Bring the war home!” and “Two, three, many Vietnams!”
That did short-circuit the dissent I’d encountered in the early movement, the loose coalition of anti-war, civil rights, countercultural, and other efforts at “social change.” Even as a young radical, I was (and am) a civic-republican patriot of sorts, sharing the hopes and fears that movement leaders such as Carl Oglesby, Tom Hayden and Todd Gitlin presented in the Port Huron Statement of 1962, as “bred in at least modest comfort, housed in universities,” but roused by an indigenous American tradition of dissent.
Our patriotism didn’t involve shouting “USA! USA!” at football games and political rallies. But neither did we shout “Up against the wall, motherf**ker!” or call cops “pigs.” We emphasized the civic republican virtues: trustworthy reason-giving in deliberations, mutual respect, and a willingness to temper one’s immediate self-interest to enrich a shared, public interest.
We thought that what we called “the corporate state” was submerging those civic virtues and the public interest in what would later be called “neoliberal” relativism and free-marketeering that reduces candid, open-minded citizens to self-centered consumers.
The Vietnam War does show that whatever had seemed most promising in the civic culture was being ravaged by the savage, delusional, profit-hungry misadventure in Southeast Asia, by racial segregation’s new public brutality, by black urban rioting and crime, and by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.
Communism wasn’t causing this. Champions of the American way on Wall Street, in Washington, and in the South were.
As enraged protests fed crackdowns, unreality overwhelmed democratic wisdom. Decent people felt pulled into a vortex of charges and counter-charges stirred by clownish “revolutionaries” such as Abbie Hoffman, whose Steal This Book heralded the co-optation of the counterculture by an “over-the-counter culture.” Student-protesters arraigned research universities as accomplices in what an early draft of President Eisenhower’s farewell address had called the “military-industrial-academic complex.”
A college senior summarized the situation well enough for me in a Harvard Crimson commentary written as the 1970-’71 academic year wound down and I prepared for my two-year alternative to military service venture, which I’ve previously written about:
The student movement discovered last spring [after the Kent State University killings] that no amount of shouting would move the Nixon administration to stop the slaughter, that no amount of shouting would persuade Congress to step in and save America’s soul, that neither shouting nor reasoned arguments could persuade even this university of the war’s insanity and of the university’s deep involvement in it.
The world outside, we had learned, was a cold and ugly place where black people or students or whole populations could be destroyed, and no one could stop it. And the revolution was not coming soon; those who lived for it seemed destined for death or jail or the empty, lonely life of the old leftist, his battles lost and forgotten, his brothers and sisters scattered, filling his days with memories.
The immediate causes of the protests prompted rioting by black and white protesters, and by cops who rioted against them in Chicago that summer as Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey, who’d been silent about the war as Lyndon Johnson’s vice president.
I watched the Chicago riots on TV in a congressional office on Capitol Hill, where I was interning for the summer between my junior and senior years at college, during the last tired months of the Johnson administration. That fall I voted for Humphrey, my first time casting a ballot, at age 21. Many of my peers refused to vote at all, sitting on their hands and perhaps foreshadowing some Bernie Sanders supporters’ refusal to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Some of us still associated American patriotism with Henry David Thoreau and latter-day civic saints such as the assassinated Martin Luthet King Jr. But my first encounter with that ethos, on that wintry morning in 1968, had come just a month after the devastating American response to North Vietnam’s Tet offensive.
Many people my age slid away from the war by resorting to bureaucratic expedients, trumping up physical problems; teaching in inner cities just long enough to obtain certification; undertaking religious training without faith; and finding other excuses for deferring military service.
I call these “expedients” because many young men found their way to them not out of conviction but out of fear and narrow self-interest like that of Dick Cheney, who took five deferments because, he said, “I had other priorities in the 1960s.” Donald Trump, 6’2” and in robust health in 1968, just as 300,000 men were being inducted to support new troop deployments in Southeast Asia, sought and received a deferment for “bone spurs.” He later said they “healed up quickly,” after which a high draft lottery number freed him from further worry about being drafted.
There has always been another, older way to avoid acknowledging responsibility for senseless killing: One can try to make a virtue of necessity by telling oneself that when soldiers kill and are killed in a war, no matter how irrational or immoral the war, high merit and noble destiny can be ascribed to their deeds retroactively, because they risked and/or sacrificed their lives. We think so when we refuse to acknowledge that blood has been shed meaninglessly. John Kerry punctured that sort of denial when he asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
But when the death that’s been declared valorous isn’t redeemed by victory for the supposedly noble cause it served, the ascription of high merit is even more threatened. And the less noble the cause, the more desperate the urge to ascribe nobility to its costs.
As Carl Oglesby argued in excoriating the Vietnam War and the policies of the 1950s and ‘60s that led to it, many soldiers had to believe in its validity. Some even took life as if doing so gave ultimate meaning to their compatriots’ deaths and the other deaths they’d caused. Oglesby takes that argument to its absurd, morally bankrupt conclusion:
“No one understands bombing better than the bomber, guns than the gunner, death than he who kills. You need not inform this lad that his hands are bloody. He is the expert about that.
“But the blood will wash away, will it not? The dirty, indelible stains will one day be removed? The cleansing water is victory. The sacrifice is redeemed by the rebirth for which it prepares the conquered land. But if the water is not brought, that deferred innocence in whose name the present guilt is borne vanishes from the future. It is fused permanently with the skin of the hands that shed it.
“We ought to be able to understand a very simple thing: From now on in America, it shall be with such hands that children are soothed, office memoranda signed, cocktails stirred, friends greeted, poems written, love made, the Host laid on the tongue and wreaths upon graves, the nose pinched in meditation. In the forthcoming gestures of these hands—this is really very simple—we shall behold an aspect of Vietnam’s revenge.”
Some of the worst of the anti-war protests may have been carrying “Vietnam’s revenge” in the rage and confusion of young Americans crazed by the slaughter and the unresponsiveness of our government. “This war broke my American heart,” Oglesby wrote. Mine, too. But there is something to be said for all protest that isn’t itself murderous. A republic’s freedoms are endangered most by those who duck their obligation to stand up and be counted, one way or another. Cheney and Trump ducked and, without knowing it, they went on to become part of Vietnam’s revenge, excrescences of that war. I will never fault anyone who served out of duty or conviction or who refused openly to serve for the same reasons. But Vietnam taught me that the blood shed in such war can’t retroactively sanctify it.