Et Tu, Harvard?
I generally have positive feelings about my alma mater – but not today. My blood is boiling after reading Joe Nocera's op ed in today's NYT about Harvard's disgraceful, gutless capitulation to the NCAA, which as Nocera has documented in four previous columns (N.C.A.A.'s 'Justice' System, More N.C.A.A. 'Justice', Guilty Until Proved Innocent, and Living in Fear of the N.C.A.A.) appears to be an organization too often characterized by imperial, arrogant, abusive and thuggish behavior. What a case study in "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Shame on Harvard, double shame on the NCAA, and kudos to Nocera, whose columns will hopefully lead to Congressional hearings (and maybe Harvard developing a spine).
Despite its behind-the-scenes efforts, Harvard has never once said publicly that the rule is wrong and that Temi is being unfairly punished. On the contrary, in an e-mailed statement, Bob Scalise, the Harvard athletic director, said, "We at Harvard are fully committed to following all N.C.A.A. rules and guidelines." Even, apparently, when those rules are wrong and unjust.
…I would have thought that Harvard was made of sterner stuff. Harvard claims to have values that transcend wins and losses. Harvard has often been a leader in changing how universities act. So long as schools continue to cower in the face of N.C.A.A. abuses, those abuses will continue.
The Temi Fagbenle case was a perfect opportunity for Harvard to stand up for what's right. Maybe next time.
January 27, 2012