Learning From Duke
I have no desire to further editorialize on the horrid problems at Duke. I do think it has some lessons for those at yogwf and nola.com who are constantly bleating at Tulane to finesse standards for athletes.
Calling for Tulane to lower standards for athletes- a kind of code for allowing people with an arrest or two, people who need academic massaging to qualify, or jucos (an exciting brand of athelete category that features both academic or criminal problems)- then you have an obligation to further explain how this gets policed.
On paper for example, Tulane baseball and Duke lacrosse are sort of analogous: powerhouse second tier college sports, popular on a regional basis, with a little television juice come tournament time. But Duke plays in a power league and has made an institutional decision to bend those conduct & academic rules substantially concerning athletes. Something like a quarter of the lacrosse players have an arrest record?
Accordingly, Duke has an outstanding basketball program and a money-making BCS football team and probably a bunch of racist rapists populating their lacrosse team. I am not sure that is the greatest trade going. If you know northeast prep and college sports, the athlete entitlement mentality for these lacrosse athletes coming from these Long Island style prep schools is unreal. You like the excesses of the NBA’s hip-hop culture? Then you’ll love the entitlement expectations of college lacrosse players from Wellesley.
And that is why when I read all these cryptograms on yogwf and the nola forums- get some help, some jucos in here, etc.- I get nervous. Candidly, no one ever talks about what exact percentage of felony arrests versus misdeamenor arrests versus semi-non-qualifiers is optimal.
For a place like LSU, it doesn’t really matter. No one seriously thinks LSU is running a real college in its revenue sports departments. I have no proof- but undoubtedly a quarter of current Tiger football players are familiar with the interior of squad cars. (20,400 hits!) And yes, the institution is comfortable with that. It doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.
But Tulane does. And I bet folks are seething to tell me Tulane can control it. I wager Duke thought they could too. And LaSalle last year. And Minnesota and Michigan State- two universities that aspire to schooling and big-time athletics- a few years ago. And Boston College with the gambling. And Bowden with Converse.
Yet, one day you wake up and realize 25% of your student athletes have been arrested in the past few years. Or have an outstanding, top-notch bookie operation. And that is just the ones you know about- not the ones who get a pass because they are who they are. And your university president has to have a press conference explaining why a broomstick is not a common sex toy on your campus.
Honestly, the only appropriate response to this sort of disaster at Duke is an immediate review of all athletic programs- at least at the level of Tulane's review for financial relevance, right? But while "appropriate", it is also near impossible. Duke can't stop this sports thing easily anymore.
Despite my Prince of Darkness reputation, I don’t think Tulane is that far from some sort of success level that is okay for a school that is small, hamstrung financially and doesn’t aspire to having Duke’s student-athlete on its campus. For example,