Grinding Gears: Meyer decision doesn’t solve problem

first_imgSeveral days have passed since Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer was given a three-game suspension for his mishandling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach, a verdict that reflects negatively upon the entire sports world.There was evidence revealed in an investigation conducted by the university that Meyer — who won the national championship at Ohio State in the 2014 season and is up next to Alabama’s Nick Saban among the elite coaches in college football — failed to act in 2015 upon allegations that Zach Smith, the former assistant coach, assaulted his now ex-wife Courtney Smith. There were the lies that Meyer spewed during Big Ten media day in July, when he pretended he knew nothing of Smith’s past, despite his history of questionable behavior. And there was the fact that, as the story went public earlier this month, Meyer asked a staffer how to delete old text messages. Curiously, when investigators went through Meyer’s phone, they found no texts dating back longer than a year. But worst of all, following his suspension last Wednesday, Meyer held a press conference and delivered a pathetic performance. He was unapologetic, unremorseful — seemingly offended that he was even in this situation. He could not even bring himself to mention Courtney Smith’s name or talk about her until near the end of the presser.“I have a message for everyone involved in this,” he said when a reporter finally asked if he had a message for Smith. “I’m sorry that we are in this situation. I’m just sorry we are in this situation.”That was it. On Friday, in the face of public backlash, Meyer finally released a statement online apologizing to Smith and her children. But Wednesday’s presser revealed more about Meyer’s character than an after-the-fact apology. He couldn’t say her name out loud, couldn’t even apologize to her. Instead, he said “we,” like she, the victim, was at fault. It was as if, Smith just had inconvenienced him because he was now facing repercussions for covering up domestic abuse by one of his former employees when there were important football games to prepare for.By slapping Meyer on the wrist with a three-game suspension, Ohio State is sending the message that winning football games is more important than taking the moral high ground. The university had two options for two scenarios with its investigation: Clear him of wrongdoing and not punish him at all, or find fault and fire him. It found fault, and then did nothing. There is no middle ground when it comes to domestic violence or any type of  mistreatment. There is no amount of games — let alone three — that Meyer should miss that will atone for the abuse that Courtney Smith went through, abuse that he took no action to stop.It’s sad is that this comes as no surprise. We have seen this type of story time and time again in sports, where prominent athletes or coaches are given a pass because the value of their contributions to the team supersedes the desire to do right by survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence. This has to change. Brandon McCarthy, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves who is active on social issues, tweeted about the hypocrisy of sports fans who are willing to accept their star players retiring but keep rooting for their favorite player even in the face of negative revelations.“Sports fans are used to the loss of their favorites and are always excited to see what’s next,” McCarthy wrote last Wednesday. “Why doesn’t this apply when their favorites turn out to be bad people?”I am not passing judgement on whether or not Meyer is a bad person. I am saying that based on what we know, he should not be the head football coach at Ohio State. But that is not up to me, or anyone else who thinks this situation is outrageous. It is up to people within the university and determined by the culture surrounding Ohio State. Apparently, the culture of football, of bringing in money from winning games, of satisfying boosters and donors and the fanbase took precedence over showing contrition for a victim. We may never hear Courtney Smith’s name again. But we will hear all about how Meyer’s legacy was tarnished and how the Buckeyes will carry on for three games without their head coach, as if this “adversity” is even in the same stratosphere as what Smith went through.And let’s not pretend for a second that this exact scenario wouldn’t play out the same way at any other big-time college football program. College sports isn’t about doing what is morally right. The NCAA insists on its athletes being amateurs so it can profit off their success. College athletics are about one thing: making money. Urban Meyer does that for Ohio State, so he gets to keep his job. And as a sports fan, that makes me sad. Eric He is a senior majoring in journalism. He is also the managing editor of the Daily Trojan His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Mondays.last_img read more

Lakers’ Byron Scott downplays Mitch Kupchak’s refusal to offer public vote of confidence

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “It was good,” Scott said after practice on Thursday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “Our conversation was a good conversation.”Scott then downplayed speculation about the meaning of Kupchak’s refusal to comment on him publicly. Scott has two years left on his contract worth $8.5 million, and has overseen the Lakers going a combined 32-105 with 27 games left in his second season. “You guys are going to speculate anyway,” Scott said, referring to media members. “So what the hell?”Still, Scott admitted that “everybody’s being evaluated.” Moments earlier, Scott outlined how he will evaluate himself through the Lakers’ 27 remaining games. “If they are buying into what I’m talking about they have to do on a night-to-night basis to get better and be in this league for a long time,” Scott said. “If our communication is still going great and they understand I want the best for those guys to play for their very best. I’m still going to be a little tough on them as I always have been. I’m going to demand a lot from them. But at the end of the day, if they know I got their back and I’m doing all this for the right reasons, which is to make them better basketball players and make them professionals in this league for long periods of time, then I’ve done my job.” Through all the losses, Lakers coach Byron Scott still clung to a conversation he had during his job interview that left him encouraged.Scott often shared that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive Jim Buss asked him how much patience he had for a potentially long-term rebuilding process. Scott indicated he did, and then asked Kupchak and Buss how much patience they had. Scott reported everyone understood it was a long process.Yet, the Lakers’ patience could have worn thin. Kupchak declined to talk about Scott on Wednesday before reciting that he remains under contract in a two-year deal worth $8.5 million. But even without Kupchak offering a public vote of confidence, Scott still expressed confidence about his standing after talking with Kupchak on Wednesday afternoon.center_img No one on the Lakers (11-44) are happy with having the Western Conference’s worst record or missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year. No one can dispute that the Lakers rank 27th out of 30 NBA teams in total defense (106.1 points allowed). No one has debated the challenges Kobe Bryant has encountered with his health in his 20th and final NBA season.But Scott defended himself and how he has handled the Lakers’ young players, most notably D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. “You guys call it tough love. I just call it being disciplined,” Scott said. “This is what I expect from you and this is what I want. If I’m not getting it on a night-to-night basis, then I have to look at a different direction. Those guys understand what I’m doing and they understand what I want from them on a night-to-night basis.”In early January, Randle expressed frustration on the bench after being yanked in a closing minutes of a game. In subsequent games, Scott criticized Randle’s maturity level and consistency. But Randle has started the past 13 games amid limitations to Larry Nance Jr. and has averaged 12.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. “I’m just bringing my energy and effort every game,” Randle said. “Whether the shots are falling for me or not, I know there’s certain things that I can control. Usually when I do those, everything else falls into place.”Russell had acknowledged feeling confused over his role and losing his starting position 20 games into the 2015-16 season. But Russell has since downplayed the importance of that. Russell has also shown marked improvement. Russell’s season-long averages of 12.2 points on 41.5 percent shooting, 3.3 assists and 2.4 turnovers nearly mirrors his monthly contributions. But both Scott and Russell have reported improvement in his decision-making. Scott plans both to start Russell and to have him on the floor to close games. But Russell won’t start in Friday’s contest against San Antonio at Staples Center. “Next time I put him in starting lineup, he’ll get a chance unless he’s playing terrible,” Scott said. “If he’s playing reasonably well, he’ll get a chance to close them out.”Quotable“Our conversation was a good conversation.” — Lakers coach Byron Scott on his recent talk with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchaklast_img read more