Chicago Tribune sportswriter Shannon Ryan has an important column today attacking the efforts of Missouri legislators to punish activist student athletes who boycott games (and fine coaches who support them): “This is another attempt to control athletes, silence them and pigeonhole them as solely money-makers for the university.” Even if I don’t think football players should get to dictate university policy, I certainly don’t think legislators should get to suppress free speech and student protest.
But I also have to criticize Ryan for an article she wrote yesterday for the Tribune titled, “Illini fumble AD hunt.” Here are a few quotes from it:
“Two potential candidates who are sitting athletic directors were contacted through their university email addresses, sources said, which is against the typical protocol of hiring searches and could jeopardize an AD’s current position.”
“Sources also said the committee has vetted candidates first through peripheral associates rather than directly contacting the candidates or their inner circles, which also can cause friction for candidates under contract at other universities. One source called the process ‘backward.’”
“Universities typically hire search firms to identify and vet candidates, which college sources said makes it more comfortable for sitting ADs to discuss taking a new job.”
The world of college athletics is so full of pompous jerks that they would contact a newspaper reporter to complain about how offended they are at receiving an email inviting them to apply for a job. No, these overprivileged jackasses think they’re entitled to have one of their buddies at an overpaid search firms call them. It’s completely absurd to imagine that Athletic Directors are being fired by universities (who secretly monitor their email) because they receive an email with a job prospect. We must reject the notion that faculty and staff on a search committee are incapable of seeking an athletic director on their own and must hire expensive search firms and give up control to them.
Interestingly, the same day as Ryan’s article, the Chicago Tribune reprinted a fascinating Washington Post article about the massive growth in spending on athletics in higher education, especially severance pay.
Instead of using anonymous sources to condemn the University of Illinois for doing the right thing by not using a search firm, Ryan ought to be reporting on the waste of money and corruption in athletic departments, and how this insular world of search firms helps perpetuate the problem.