Welp, only one story in the news at the moment (outside of awesome Cal Olympians, who rightfully will get their own posts elsewhere. As if I have any insight on that other than 'damn, those people are impressively talented!)
An obligatory word on the Chronicle story on Damon Harrington
Once again we've got Cal athletics in the news based on the AD's ability (or lack thereof) to respond to allegations of employee misconduct. And so I find myself wanting to simply quote stuff I've already written since it pretty well aligns with my opinions on this issue:
We have to hope that Cal has a strong policy, followed that policy and the procedures it entails, that the investigator(s) did their job fully and competently, and that when they reached their conclusion, they determined an appropriate consequence.
Let's put aside the policy question, and again focus on the response to an incident.
We have to hope that Cal's investigation into both incidents were done by fair and impartial investigators, and that they reached sound conclusions. Damon Harrington still works in the athletic department. Maybe the investigation found that he didn't do anything wrong. Maybe the investigation found that he made mistakes, and was counseled or disciplined in some fashion, but his mistakes were not sufficient to result in dismissal. Maybe the investigation wasn't impartial, and a fair result wasn't reached.
I don't know the answer to that question. Based on their article, I don't think the Chronicle knows the answer to that question. I think there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical that Cal investigated these incidents thoroughly, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there has been a miscarriage of justice either. About all we can do is hope that the issues were handled appropriately, and in a fashion that will prevent similar incidents from occurring again.
I do know that Brian Barsky has a very strong opinion about everything though. Maybe he should start a blog.
Damn, that was the type of snark I was trying to avoid. Which segues nicely into . . .
On critics of Cal athletics
Various members of Cal's faculty (most notably Mr. Barsky) very much do not like intercollegiate athletics. I'm not entirely sure what their ideal world would be - the elimination of the athletic department? Simply a return to non-revenue sports? - but regardless, I don't think there's a ton of value in demonizing them for an opinion that I disagree with but can respect to a certain extent.
I loooooove college sports. And I occasionally get frustrated when campus critics use any and all opportunities to complain, even in situations where their complaints are unfair or unfounded. But campus critics have also played a role in forcing the AD to reach more stable footing financially and for forcing academic improvements.
The bottom line is that Barsky and those who share similar opinions are a part of campus that won't be going away. And it's just as true that big time college sports have plenty of . . . let's go with unclean aspects to it. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect Cal to be on the forefront of addressing those issues, and being able to defend how it conducts itself in that regard.
As for the Chronicle . . . well, it's a news source. They have no reason to be kind to Cal, but they theoretically should have loyalty to the truth, whatever that is. You would hope that their reporters will get the entire story, but reporters are humans too and just as subject to human failure. This is just another example of how Cal generally can benefit by getting out ahead of a story.
To be fair, Cal was likely hamstrung. Generally speaking, you're not supposed to discuss internal disciplinary matters with the press, which left Cal's critics free to shape the story themselves. If nothing else, I thought the response to the story was pretty strong. As big a deal as this seems now, in the summer with almost literally nothing else going on, it will seem relatively insignificant in a few months . . . assuming the AD has handled this appropriately, internally.
Around the Pac-12
When I'm writing this portion of the column, I first head to ESPN's Pac-12 blog to see if there's any interesting news. As an example of how deep into the dead of the off-season we are, take a look at their recent content. Ranking the best Pac-12 'triplets' on each side of the ball. Man, kudos to them for finding something to write about, but jeez are we scraping the bottom of the barrel.
What we DO have is a bunch of basketball player news:
- Oregon Basketball will have Dylan Ennis available after an injury plagued season allowed him to be granted a 6th year of eligibility. He'll compete with Casey Benson for minutes at point guard.
- Colorado picks up a transfer wing from Missouri who was a key contributor . . . on a team that finished 3-15 in a meh SEC.
- UCLA loses a previously signed, high 3 star shooting guard recruit for academic reasons. Probably not a crushing loss, and he could theoretically get to UCLA later once his academics clear up. Pretty sure this is Steve Alford's fault 100% though.
- Terrance Ferguson (a 2016-17 five star Arizona commit) has elected to go overseas to get paid immediately. Arizona will dry their tears of sadness on the shoulders of the other three 5 star recruits in their class of 2016.
- Ralphie Report put together an all-heel Pac-12 team for last season, and I link to it for 2 reasons: no Cal players, and Arizona fans did exactly what you'd expect Arizona fans to do in the comments.