August 29, 2012
You may know that I received both my Master's and PhD degrees from Penn State. It was especially sad for me to see the reputation of a great university that I know tarnished with the recent football program scandal. It is an important lesson and a reminder to all those in leadership and positions of high responsibility of the importance of integrity and ethics. In light of the fact that the College of Business established the UCCS College of Business Daniels Ethics Initiative with a grant from the Daniels Fund, I made sure we as a college did some soul searching.
The sport industry is rife with high profile ethical lapses, and I wondered if we are doing enough in all our programs and especially in our Sport Management program to educate students about how to handle these situations. While the sanctions against Penn State may be considered harsh by some, the NCAA found that egregious action and inaction by university officials contributed to a culture that allowed the abuse of children to occur and to be covered up. It's often easier to know when our actions are unethical, but what about our inaction?
I asked our Sport Management Program faculty to talk about how we addressed the Penn State issue. David Askinas, who teaches sport law, wrote this:
We devoted an entire lecture in Sports Law to the Penn State Sandusky crisis. In addition, as facts were developed we continued to monitor the case throughout the fall and spring semesters. We used the facts of the case to discuss appropriate responses by administrators and coaches when faced with allegations of sexual molestation. We had a spirited discussion about whether this was a football issue or a university wide breakdown in leadership. The students were challenged to think about the multitude of risk management issues that could arise in a university setting.
As tragic as the Penn State situation was, it presented a great teaching opportunity. We wanted to ensure that our Sport Management students would be prepared to recognize areas of risk and respond to any situation from an ethically sound risk management perspective.
The Sports Law class is constantly presenting examples of ethically challenging situations to our students. Whether the discussions center around illegal recruiting incentives, use of performance enhancing drugs or situations of sexual harassment and the like, we engage our students in spirited analyses of ethical and unethical behavior in the world of sports.
So, as painful as this situation is for me personally, for Penn State, and for college sports, I am pleased that our faculty have been able to act on it to help insure this kind of incident never happens again.
Please contact me if you would like to contribute/share/support our Daniels Ethics Initiative efforts we have undertaken and help us accomplish our vision of building successful futures.