UW-Madison Football Players Must Meet Academic Criteria, Coaches Need To Stay Quiet

Once again we are witnessing a story where the tail is attempting to wag the dog.

This time it is taking place at the UW-Madison where University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst and UW athletic director Barry Alvarez are seeking to change the process concerning appeals on behalf of prospective student-athletes who do not meet the required academic standards.

The strange story of the coaches not knowing who is the final decision-maker for admissions came to a head this week over Jordan Stevenson.  He is a running back from Texas who was denied admission into UW by the admissions board based on academic concerns.  The player found a school that would take him. But it was rival Nebraska and the UW football coaches started to fume and plot.

About five years ago a policy change took place at the UW where coaches could no longer make appeals on behalf of prospective student-athletes to individual schools and colleges within the university.   The reason for the change is clear on its face.

But now the coaches want to change that policy.

The UW-Madison is a quality school of higher education and if one does not meet the academic standards or is proven to be unable to master the rigors of the classroom they need to seek another college.  Nothing more should be required to be heard on the matter.

That common sense thinking runs counter to what the football program cares about. For the coaches it is all about racking up a winning score on Saturday afternoon.

Many believe that only the best recruits for the classroom should be the ones selected to attend the UW. Some semi-illiterate player who will spend much of his time lifting weights or pondering the deeper world of a film major do not fit in with the values that most place on higher education.

When I talk to my friends around the country I am always proud to discuss the UW, a place recognized far and wide as a top-ranked global research university.

But what people like Chryst and Alvarez desire is to continually promote and enlarge the image of the UW as a NCAA powerhouse. Cut corners over who is allowed to be a student and work overtime to blunt the negative stories that arise from young people being tossed into the cash-ridden NCAA.

Many families across this state scrimp and save so they can hopefully send an academically-worthy child to the UW-Madison to mine the books.  It is therefore a slap to those families if a person who can only throw a football, but has high priced coaches working on his behalf, can also attend the school.

There is a sign on a building going up the hill towards Bascom Hall that speaks to the desire that real students had for attending this university in its formative days. Those students needed to make sure they obtained wood to keep the stove supplied for fire. It was not easy to be a student in those days, but they fully understood the value of an education and so did what was needed to attain it.

It is those same values that must lead the UW today. We can not allow the football coaches to water down the process of admissions.

Where Was News Editor At Wisconsin State Journal Regarding Bret Bielema Twitter Story?

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Now I grant the issue of this post is not, given the headlines of this week, much to concern anyone over.

Yet, when I read this news story in the Wisconsin State Journal I did rather wince at the inclusion of a sentence that stepped way over the crisp clear line of journalism.

Former UW-Madison football coach Bret Bielema’s wife made a controversial twitter statement this weekend.  The details of the story were made clear in the article.  But is was the ending of the piece that made me think perhaps the news editor of the paper was not fully engaged when proofing copy.

Bielema said his wife was “crushed” to learn of the widespread impact her  one-word entry had on UW fans and that wasn’t her intent. He said he knows that  criticism comes with his job description, “but she lets it get to her.”

“Some of the comments are so sick it’s hard to imagine someone can say it,”  he said.

Maybe it would be best if the Bielemas refrained from using Twitter for a  while.

“Live and learn,” he said.

I have no love lost for Bielema who did not go through the normal process for getting the coaching job, thanks to Barry Alvarz.  I am sympathetic  to the football team who was forced to swallow a loss this weekend that will likely never be forgotten by any of the players.

But having said that the line interjected into a news story that “it would be best if the Bielemas refrained from using Twitter for a  while” is just so unprofessional and small-minded that it first amazes me writer Andy Baggot would have submitted it, and second that the news editor at the paper did not catch it before being printed.

I love the opinion pages of newspapers, and the tone taken in that line would have worked in a number of different ways had that been the location in the paper it had been printed.  But to have a line of that type used in a news story was not appropriate.

UW-Madison Football Fans Go Thirsty After Blocking Youth From Selling Concessions In Stands

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Color me not shocked when it comes to Barry Alvarez.

Late last week I wrote a blog post about the UW-Madison football program’s decision to stop allowing youth from selling pop and peanuts.

I can not but help think that with all the’ wise men and women’ who make up the UW sports administration that there was not some way to make sure that young and eager faces were not able to continue selling pop and peanuts.  Shame on the UW for making a cold-hearted call!

Somewhere along the line college sports started to be big business, and let me add to the growing list of others who know it does not make for a good look.

This morning I get up and discover that University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez sent an email to Badger football season ticket holders Saturday night, apologizing for issues with concessions during the home opener.

What might have gone wrong, you ask?

Fans became upset with fewer people working as vendors for concessions on Saturday, making for a lack of drinks to buy while sitting in the stands. Fans were also put off by long lines at concessions stands.  One fan summed it up for many about the state of affairs for the money grubbing football program by saying “There’s nobody up in the stands. There’s no vendors up there.”

After decades of having different youth organizations serving drinks in the stands, a private company has been contracted to do it, and first thing out of the gate made a royal mess of things.

Bring back the kids!!

And maybe it is time to also  think about the future role of Barry.

Barry Alvarez To Squeeze UW-Madison For $225,000 For Coaching Rose Bowl Game

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This story in the Wisconsin State Journal makes me puke. Perhaps State Representative Steve Nass might want to dig a little deeper into this gem of a mess in the UW-Madison’s sports program.   Or does the interest in fiscal messes end when a sports team is involved?

While reading this rot in the morning paper I thought back on the many times this past year when I heard rank-and-file Wisconsinites explain why a high school teacher should be expected to take on extra-curricular duties such as play practice for no extra income, and just expect that is part of their job duties.

So how would those same citizens feel about the news that Barry Alvarez is going to try to demand more money from the UW-Madison for coaching the football team at the Rose Bowl?

Alvarez is trying to make it sound that he gave up money when coaching past Rose Bowl’s.  He should not have been paid extra then, and has proven that the money was not needed to secure victories.

At a time when everyone, and every institution is cutting back while trying to make ends meet I would think that Alvarez could see the bigger picture, and forget about trying to add more money to his already too hefty paycheck.

This news is just insane, and truly one of the more gross and greedy stories I have read in some time.  ( And, I read a lot.)

Crunch time comes for employees in all sorts of businesses.  But at those times workers are expected to ‘buck up’, tuck their chin in, and grind down for the job that needs doing.  How many would be still employed if they stepped into their boss’ office and asked for a mere $225,000 for the additional tasks that need doing?

Greed knows no bounds.

You know what? I did my first three (years) in double duty for free — and no  mas,” Alvarez said on Friday after the UW athletic board meeting.

Alvarez was referring to 2003-2005, when he had dual roles of athletic  director and football coach but was paid one salary.

It’s pending Board of Regents approval, but Alvarez said he would be paid  one-twelfth of former coach Bret Bielema’s total yearly compensation package of  $2.7 million. That comes to $225,000 for Alvarez for the next month’s work. He  makes $1 million as athletic director.

More Proof UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez’s Comment About Alleged Victim Of Sexual Harassment Was Tasteless

I am sure that two stories in the Wisconsin State Journal were not lost on everyone this morning. In fact, I suspect they popped out for many who read the paper.

On page 2 we were informed that UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez finally apologized in a letter to a Dane County supervisor for what any 9-year-old would agree was a tasteless comment regarding an alleged victim of sexual harassment.

Dane County Supervisor Carousel Andrea Bayrd had objected to Alvarez’ comments in a March 21 article. In it, Alvarez questioned the validity of an allegation by a former Badgers football player who said he hid in a bathroom to avoid the advances of John Chadima, then a senior athletic official.

“Was that the accusation from a so-called ex-football player who had to lock himself in a closet to hide from John?” Alvarez said in the March article. “I would question a lot of what was said.”

Mocking the actions that a victim takes to stay safe is truly reprehensible.  Barry Alverez was rightly upbraided in the press and public for making such a statement.  Circling the wagons by UW sports officials to limit the blowback from the John Chadima affair was a cowardly way to act.

The ironic aspect to this was that on page 3 of today’s newspaper came a story of another alleged sexual assault  with the victim taking to a bathroom for safety.

Dannie Carter, 54, of Madison, allegedly came to a home in Sun Prairie on March 9 and told a 17-year-old girl that he would give her money if she performed the sex act, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

The girl told police that Carter also said he could “teach” her some things once her mother was away on a trip. After he made more sexually suggestive remarks, she told police, she locked herself in a bathroom and called her aunt, while Carter tried to open the door, the complaint states.

I am assuming that Barry Alverez is done chastising victims for taking measures to protect themselves.  Dane County Supervisor Bayrd makes the point for all who are victims in their need to feel safe, including the alleged victim of John Chadima.

Bayrd said she was disappointed by Alvarez’ comments, adding that it sends the message that victims who report will risk being made fun of.

“How dare Alvarez make fun of an alleged victim who, if telling the truth, kept his wits in a very dangerous situation and made the right decision to remove himself from trouble,” she wrote in a letter to Alvarez and interim Chancellor David Ward.

Barry Alvarez And Bret Bielema Have Some Questions To Answer

There is a column by Chris Rickert in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal concerning the John Chadima story that should be read by every person in Madison.  Make that the State of Wisconsin.

It is also a column that should be taken seriously by the UW-Madison, and especially by Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema.

I stated on this blog  Januaury 28th that “there is a hollowness to the prattle from Alverez over what he did or did not know”, and that Bielema not having time for questions on the matter due to the fact he “had a job to do”  was a “snake-like approach to one of the biggest messes in memory when it comes to UW athletics.”

Today Rickert made the case for some honest answers to be offered from both Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema over this matter.

To his credit, UW interim chancellor David Ward has directed the panel  investigating the latest allegations of abuse against Chadima to inform him of  “any other matters (that) come to your attention about which I should know” — like, for instance, a cover-up.

Ward’s mandate did not include specific instructions to question athletic  director Barry Alvarez or football coach Bret Bielema, said Vince Sweeney, the  vice chancellor for university relations.

That’s too bad, because the facts of the Chadima case are probably going to  be hard enough to sort out as it is.

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Chip Hunter, UW-Madison associate professor of management and human resources,  told me he didn’t know of any research specifically on whether behavior like  Chadima’s alleged behavior can remain a secret in an organization.

But there is research showing organizations are able to keep secrets  generally, “if the system is so designed and reinforced,” he said.

I don’t know if UW Athletics “designed and reinforced” a system that kept  Chadima’s behavior under wraps.

One way to find out, though, is to press Alvarez and Bielema for answers to  the kinds of questions people are asking Gov. Scott Walker in the criminal probe  of his former aides.

Specifically: What did they know and when did they know it?

Wisconsin: Does Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema, Scott Walker Take Responsibility For Anything?

This morning the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal made me wonder who among the powerful in this state think they have a duty to step up and accept responsibility for the things that go wrong?   Who among those who want to be viewed as leaders in this state actually demonstrate leadership?  How many of those who make headlines every week from their perches of power ever accept responsibility for the mistakes or even crimes that take place in the offices and environs in which they work?

Kind of heavy questions for a Saturday?  True enough.

But ones that deserve some pondering in light of the news from this week.

The front page of the WSJ had the banner tease of University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez claiming “I didn’t know” in relation to the John Chadima mess. 

The report which was released this week detailed how Chadima allegedly supplied alcohol to underage students, using funds for the alcohol from donations to the athletic department.  Then when drunk Chadima made unwanted sexual advances toward a male student employee, and then to top it off threatened to have the student employee fired after being turned down.

The report indicated Alvarez and deputy athletic director Sean Frazier were aware of the specific party that led to the alleged incidents. Alvarez reiterated that was not the case, just as he did in a statement he released earlier in the week.

“I didn’t know this particular party was going on,” Alvarez said. “As a matter of fact, John was supposed to be at dinner with me that night. (Chadima) canceled out just beforehand. I didn’t know anything about this party.”

For someone who is supposed to have a handle on the UW sports department, and knows very well the antics that takes place during a Rose Bowl weekend in California there is a hollowness to the prattle from Alverez over what he did or did not know. 

Last evening on the local news it was reported by WKOW-TV that head football coach Bret Bielema’s heavy January travel schedule prevented him from granting an interview to the special panel as it reviewed the Chadima mess.

Really?

I strongly suspect that if the rank and file citizen of this state was wanted for questioning in a probe of this nature there would be no room for evasion.   I bet every drop of water in Lake Monona that we would have our backsides in a chair answering as many questions as was required. 

But Bielema got a pass on answering any touchy questions as “He had a job to do,” Associate Athletics Director Justin Doherty told 27 News. “According to his secretary, he was simply not able to be able to find a time that worked for all of us,” Fiedler said.

What a snake-like approach to one of the biggest messes in memory when it comes to UW athletics.  Apparently this ‘most important’ cog in the wheel to the UW got away without answering anyone.

Finally there was the lead story in the paper this morning about Governor Walker’s dismissal that anything political was going on during work hours when he was Milwaukee County Executive.   This week two more former employees were charged with doing political work on the taxpayer’s time.

Russell, who has already been charged in the John Doe, set up the secret (internet and email) system and kept it hidden from county rank and file workers, according to one of the criminal complaints. Rindfleisch, who succeeded him as deputy chief of staff, was a frequent user of the system, which was housed in her office down the hall from Walker’s office, prosecutors said.

“It is just not believable that this all happened 25 feet away from his office and he didn’t know about it,” Zielinski said.

When asked Friday about the computer system and proximity of staff, Walker cited the ongoing investigation and his campaign’s cooperation, adding that he was “really not in a position to comment in much more detail.”

No one needs to be reminded that even if there was no reason Walker could not speak, there is no way he would take responsibility for the actions that were taking place in his office.  No chance in hell.

More than once I have thought about President Jeb Bartlett on NBC’s drama ‘West Wing’ while reading the morning newspaper. When he offered to be censured by Congress for less than candid answers about his health and MS condition, he told his White House Chief Of Staff that no one takes the blame for anything anymore. Therefore no one is ever held responsible for anything that goes wrong. As such he stepped up to the front of the line and endured the political punches by doing the right thing on the award-winning TV drama.

If only real life at times mimicked television. More often than not when there are serious lapses in judgment in government and sports much finger pointing and commission creating takes place, but little in true accountability ever surfaces. We learn of the mistakes but rarely hear, as Bartlett said, anyone taking any self-blame.

Barry Alvarez Needs To Release Information On John Chadima

I am a believer that a forthcoming attitude and openness is the best remedy for  controversy and intrigue.  Though I am not a reporter, I do share and support the views of journalists who know that sunshine is the best remedy for darkness.  In addition, I have a strong belief that taxpayers have a right to know what is being done with their money.

For the past week there has been little but darkness and secrecy coming from the University of Wisconsin-Madison regarding the most peculiar case involving John Chadima, the senior associate athletic director.  Following what can only be viewed as a most serious situation John Chadima was placed on administrative leave late last week, and then in hours resigned his position.

The UW created an independent inquiry to ferret out the Chadima story which apparently came to light at the recent Rose Bowl.  But there is legitimate concern, as voiced by State Representative Nass, about the  nature of that inquiry, and its credibility. 

I rarely find myself aligned with Nass but feel his reasoning to be sound when it comes to this matter.  Representative Nass is correct in his desire to see that the inquiry panel does not consist of members with “strings or attachments” to the UW.  Such an unbalanced panel will only undermine the long-term interests of the UW.

If there is any place at the UW that deserves the brightest of lights placed, and the most examination given, it would be the UW Athletic Department.  To often it has not been examined to the degree it should since the famed plays which arouse the general public gets the attention, while the workings of the actual department gets a pass. 

That attitude must change. 

Now is not the time to be protecting the department, or creating an image of ‘circling the wagons”, which is how this inquiry appears to many who pay the bills for the UW.  Instead this is the time the public needs to become engaged in the department itself, and hold powerful people accountable.

For that to happen the UW must opt for openness and candor.

Barry Alvarez needs to squeeze himself into a suit and tie and place himself in front of the press to honestly address some of the basic questions that are at the root of the Chadima matter.  He must address the general nature of the controversy and lay open the problems inside his domain.