Saturday, December 7, 2013

UAA, its Kangaroo Court and the Board of Regents ...

As defined by Websters, the phrase Kangaroo Court means "a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted."  UAA seems to be adding a further phrase to the term "... and about which they believe no one will care."

Earlier this week I wrote a piece on the main blog about some of my ongoing experiences with UAA's Athletic Department, which brought the phrase to mind ("UAA Athletics remain badly broken, and why addressing it is important …").  Interestingly, the piece set the all time record for number of hits for a day on the blog.  In the piece I described a fairly bizarre process currently underway at UAA which involves me, but I believe also carries a larger lesson related to how the University deals both with its student-athletes and with donors.

Amanda Coyne subsequently discussed my piece in her column, giving emphasis as anyone should to the career-limiting (some have said, "bullying") treatment by the University last year of some of its women student-athletes following the disastrous hiring of Nate Altenhofen ("Allegations of cover-up and retribution involving UAA athletics").  As a matter of fairness she reached out to UAA for comment.  As she subsequently reported, however, apparently believing that no one will care UAA replied only with this non-responsive "response":
UAA has been working with the NCAA since July 2012 on an investigation that looked into the women’s basketball program and the conduct of former head coach Tim Moser. It was not focused on UAA athletics generally, nor was it focused on Altenhofen. NCAA bylaws prohibit UAA from commenting further on an ongoing NCAA investigation. 
Former coach Altenhofen resigned in the midst of an investigation into professional misconduct in August 2012. In accordance with Board of Regents policy, UAA will not comment further on personnel matters.
The response certainly confirms one of my statements -- that the "investigation" began (in July 2012) well after the event in which I was involved (November 2011) and only after I started raising concerns about UAA's conduct in other areas.  Beyond that, however, as Amanda notes generally UAA's "response" dodges the central issues, but without providing good reasons:
  • Did UAA refuse to release one or more of its women athletes in the wake of its hiring of Altenhofen?  That's not an issue which is covered by either matter to which UAA refers in its response.  Specifically, this matter doesn't relate to Altenhofen's conduct; it relates to the University's conduct in response to the situation the University created by Altenhofen's hiring. 
  • As a state institution (ironically enough, also funded in part by own my donations), is UAA conducting investigations and reaching conclusions about sanctions without notice and opportunity for comment by at least one of the intended targets?  Again, not an issue covered by either matter to which UAA refers in its response.  The University can't legitimately duck and cover by invoking the phrase "NCAA investigation."  The NCAA's procedures don't require that institutions conduct their investigations without providing the potential targets due process; indeed, the NCAA's own procedures provide the exact opposite.  The question my piece raised and Amanda echoed is about the process UAA is using, not the NCAA.  
  • Finally, is UAA proposing to take actions and impose sanctions beyond those which are supported by NCAA precedent, and if so, why? Again, not an issue covered by either matter to which UAA refers in its response.  If the matters are beyond NCAA precedent they certainly aren't covered by the "NCAA investigation" excuse.  If UAA believes they are imposing what the NCAA would in similar circumstances they can say so (and then be judged as to whether they actually are); if not, UAA should admit it and then defend its actions.  The fact is, of course, UAA can't.  As I explained in my previous piece, UAA has gone rogue and is simply making up stuff as it goes along in order to achieve other objectives.
My understanding is that the UAA Athletic Department now is proposing that there be an outside audit of its compliance activity after the sanctions it has proposed are finalized and implemented.  In other words, UAA wants to finish shooting first and allow questions to be asked only after.

The Board of Regents -- and frankly, because of the potential adverse impact on the University's ability to raise private funds, with the Administration and legislature looking over their shoulder -- should reverse the process.  The judgments handed down by UAA's Kangaroo Court should be put on hold pending the outcome of a thoroughly independent, impartial and due process-oriented (i.e., notice and opportunity for comment) review of UAA's own conduct in this situation.

The problem ultimately with the characters in Jimmy Breslin's classic, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, is that they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.  The Board of Regents should step in before UAA completes doing that to itself, and with it further damages the University's reputation with potential donors at the very time it needs to be solidifying it.