Lawyers, Sports and Money

By Tony Moorby September 09, 2019 45

When is a bribe the same as a donation? Actually, by definition, never. The recent fracas over payments to individuals who can sway college entrance decisions is making the determination preciously difficult.

Of course it’s not fair to bend the rules to someone’s betterment, especially in terms of entrance to some of the most prestigious colleges in the country, thus pushing opportunities away from those more academically deserving.

 Some candidates postured that they could contribute athletic prowess to the school’s roster, overriding any lack of academic talent. Athletic capabilities, when questioned, could be as equally distant as their brainpower. Perhaps they could polish the oars of the rowing club or sweep the floors of the changing rooms. Meanwhile pockets of professors got padded as a lot of ‘looking the other way’ was going on. So powerful people were exerting their financial strength and rot was being set in the system. What’s that expression about power corrupts..?

 As the network of students and desperate parents grew then so did the enablers until, inevitably, the word got out and lawsuits started flying around.

 Two companies were formed by one individual who became the peddler of money for places and in some instances bribing college administrators by keeping a distance as a middleman on behalf of wealthy families, some in the entertainment business where personal reputation carries so much weight these days.

 The company also postured some of the ‘gifts’ were donations to the school or their sports’ programs.

 The federal prosecutors’ allegations were of a very serious nature as the scheme involved bribing exam administrators, allowing cheating on entrance exams, bribing coaches to allow unqualified applicants as recruited athletes and money laundering through a charitable organization. Mail fraud and other crimes are also named in 51 prosecutions.

 As always, there are two sides to the story and while there was pressure from the parents to allow this to happen, in the ensuing investigations it was discovered in some internal memoranda from top administrators that schools would view the children of top donors advantageously, implying that the parents could pay their way in for the kids. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of these double standards as the authorities are still digging to assess the extent of the schools’ involvements.

 I get offended when schools concoct some scheme to attract vast amounts of new money when their fees go up exponentially every year. No wonder student loan debt is the highest it’s ever been - $1.5 trillion as of now plus another $120 billion in privately funded loans.

 The availability of big money to colleges of all stripes is incongruously large, especially when access to sports broadcasts is so widespread today. I get torn over the status of amateur athletes not being allowed income or emoluments of any kind while the college is raking in untold millions. It would be easier to swallow if the money were to be distributed more evenly for the direct benefit of the students. But the ideal of keeping amateur status as pure as possible still has an enormous appeal.

 I could think of a million ways to share the wealth in improvements for students – better accommodations, better classrooms and laboratories, more open access to poorer but intelligent students, invest in the latest technology within the educational environment for the future of our country and I could go on ad nauseam.

 These college administrators, professors and deans, coaches and doctors all need some serious deeper scrutiny. I feel they’ve been getting away with all kinds of miscreant deeds including turning their heads from crimes of which they are aware, up to and including sexual predation.

 These people’s pedestals are not so high that they can’t be toppled.

 

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Last modified on Monday, 09 September 2019 17:47

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