John Canzano on how big-time college sports corrupts everything

In the Oregonian, here, with a link to his previous investigative reports on the alleged 1998 gang rape by members of the OSU football team:

… The Benton County District Attorney’s office and the blossoming enterprise that was the Beavers’ athletic department had a close working relationship, according to Sandrock. The Beavers held an annual meeting designed to foster good will.

Over the years, Sandrock said, he and other investigators were summoned to a meeting with Oregon State administrators during the tenures of football coaches Mike Riley, Joe Avezzano, Jerry Pettibone and Dave Kragthorpe. Present for those meetings were upper-level administrators including athletic directors Dee Andros and, later, Mitch Barnhardt. The meetings were presided over by one of the OSU vice presidents and occasionally by the university president, according to Sandrock.

On Oregon State’s annual guest list: the district attorney’s office, Corvallis Police Department, Benton County Sheriff’s Department, Oregon State Police and campus police.

“We’d get together and slap backs, laugh and talk about how we were going to try to work better together,” Sandrock said. “We had one season where 10 or 11 of the starting 22 football players ended up under investigation for one crime or another. Finally, one year I stood up at the meeting and said, ‘If I catch your assistant coaches contacting a sex-assault victim involving one of your players again I’ll have the coach arrested.'”

The room went silent.

Prior to 1998, Sandrock said, he became aware that Oregon State assistant football coaches attempted to talk survivors out of pursuing cases. The practice happened more than once, according to Sandrock, and not just with sex assaults.

“It just seemed to be part of the culture that coaches would do what they could to get their athletes out of trouble,” he said. …

Meanwhile Austin Meek has a story in the RG (prompted by the departure of Jim Bartko for the AD’s job at Fresno State) about the 1996 decision by UO boosters to go big on college football:

… The enduring contribution, though, was his relationship with Oregon’s biggest benefactor. It started in the 1990s, when Bartko was working in Oregon’s Portland development office and Knight was taking a renewed interest in his alma mater.

“After the Rose Bowl, he started getting involved,” Bartko said. “I just happened to be his contact. We became great friends.

“He had a vision for the University of Oregon to be great. He thought athletics could be a great window to the whole campus and elevate everybody.”

When Bartko leaves, he’ll take his own piece of Oregon history. He was one of the people at the table when three influential boosters — Knight, Pat Kilkenny and Randy Papé — gathered with Bellotti after the 1994 Cotton Bowl to chart the future of Oregon athletics.

Apparently the faculty were not consulted, though presumably some of the Johnson Hall administrators, who were along for their free junkets, were in on the deal.

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.