The athletic department proves the best offense is a good defense
In My Opinion | Guest Commentary
Issue date: 8/6/07 Section: Commentary
PrintEmail DoubleClick Any Word Page 1 of 1 Gee, I had no idea what a great guy Pat Kilkenny is. I'm glad he has let us all know. Rising above the temptation of false modesty, Kilkenny said that he "had a lot of sensitivity" ("Kilkenny defends decision to keep quiet," ODE, July 30) for the members of the wrestling program by not informing them that their fates hung in the balance as he and President Frohnmayer plotted the program's demise. After all, as Kilkenny attested, the matter was up in the air until the very end. On the other hand, someone more cynical might be tempted to ask just what this latter statement is supposed to mean. When parsed, what it seems to mean is that until he and the President made a decision, no decision had been made. But isn't that the expected course of events - an idea is proposed, it is considered and a decision is reached? I fail to see how the alleged mutability of the situation should have informed the decision about whether or not to pursue it in secret. When viewed in this light, the statement seems not to be an explanation of their actions, but a defense against the charge that the decision to ax the wrestling program was a forgone conclusion and, further, that the secrecy surrounding it was an attempt to limit any outcry or activity that would have complicated that conclusion. I am not necessarily leveling this charge but, to paraphrase, the athletic director doth protest too much, me thinks.
If I might offer an analogy, the situation is akin to a patient with a potentially fatal disease whom, on his deathbed, learns that his doctor had, sometime ago, diagnosed his condition. Upon learning this, the patient asks, "Doc, why didn't you tell me?" To which the doctor replies, "I didn't want to upset you." The patient is about to ask a follow-up when, alas, he expires. You may wonder what the follow-up question was to be. I know what I'd ask. But in this situation, I'm curious how the members of the wrestling team would respond. They don't seem to have been asked.
Now, I have no investment in University athletics, nor do I have much interest in college wrestling, baseball or competitive cheer for that matter. I do have an interest, however, in holding our leaders, and those who represent us, to account. From my perspective, the University got what it was looking for in Kilkenny - 'someone who can make things happen' is, I believe, how he has been described. In my experience, a frequent part of this attribute is the attitude that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. As for President Frohnmayer, some might question his assertion that he was unaware of established protocols dictating that the Athletic Department consult with the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee on such decisions. I, on the other hand, question his judgment. Surely he must have had some sense that the decision would bear the taint of suspicion. Apparently that gave him no pause.
Bill Shaw is a graduate student in the architecture school