Rutgers Drama + Late Night Musings

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Now, I love my sleep just as much as the next college student but seeing as I took this rainy Sunday to my advantage and watched episodes of Chopped and Property Brothers all day…it is currently 1:15 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I figure these are my last days before the real world to enjoy day long TV show marathons, so judge me not.

Anyways – this past week I started a new internship at Vox Public Relations Public Affairs in Eugene. So far, I am really enjoying it. I think it will give me lots of opportunity to improve my writing skills and get a taste of life at a small PR agency. I go in for a few hours on Mondays and Wednesdays and even have my own intern station with desktop computer and all. It feels very grown up.

On Wednesday, I wrote a blog post for Vox’s Blog that I wanted to share here as well. I chose to write about the Rutgers’ basketball scandal that seems to be the talk of the sports world at the moment. So, here it is:

College athletics is no stranger to scandal, and the industry is abuzz again following Rutgers’ firing of men’s basketball head coach Mike Rice. The school arrived at the decision after hours of video footage showing Rice physically and verbally abusing his players leaked on the Internet.

The story first broke on Tuesday during ESPN’s broadcast of the popular sports program Outside the Lines. The show aired video footage in which Rice is shown shoving, throwing basketballs at and using homophobic slurs toward the members of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball team.

Many of us are shocked by the disturbing footage – that is, many of us who don’t work for the Rutgers athletic department. Back in December, Rice was quietly fined $50,000 and suspended for three games after the Rutgers athletic department initially became aware of abuse on the court.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie questioned the athletic department’s actions in a statement released Wednesday. “Rutgers has done the right thing by firing Mr. Rice,” said Christie, “but that still doesn’t resolve questions about how he was allowed to continue overseeing college students after this behavior first came to the attention of Rutgers administration last year.”

Rice’s behavior is inexcusable, but the athletic department’s culpability shouldn’t be ignored.  It is the administration’s responsibility to ensure that coaches treat their players with respect and show by example how to appropriately represent their universities and work together toward the common goal of winning games. Should the members of the Rutgers athletic department be punished as well for turning a blind eye to inappropriate behavior they knew was occurring?

For both Rice and Rutgers athletics, this is a PR disaster. However, there are a few things all of us can take away from this unfortunate example:

  • It will get out. If you are exhibiting inappropriate or shocking behavior in public, don’t count on keeping it quiet. This applies to all brands, companies and individuals.
  • Take responsibility. Keeping secrets in today’s digital, content-driven, constantly sharing society just doesn’t work. The only thing worse than making a mistake is trying to cover it up – if it comes to light (and it will), the public will have a difficult time ever trusting your brand again.

A solution? Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t want your fans or consumers to know or hear about. A relationship with the public can be achieved by being genuine and honest about the innermost workings of your brand and what it represents. So, use transparency to your advantage and avoid shady behavior – as Mike Rice has shown us, it won’t get you anywhere.

Since the blog post was written, the assistant coach and athletic director have stepped down, but now the pressure to take responsibility is lying on Rutgers president Robert Barchi. He is scheduled to hold a press conference Monday to address the situation and it’s effect on the university. What are your thoughts on the scandal? Do you think the school has handled it well so far?

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And on a final note, I won the bracket pool at my dad’s office and was THIS close to winning the other bracket pool I entered consisting of about 20 college boys – imagine the bragging rights if I had of pulled that off. But sadly, Syracuse fell to Michigan and now I am just another bracket loser. With all the excitement of the Final Four this past weekend, I got to thinking – imagine what a Final Four for college football will be like. Insanity…I can’t wait. Hurry up, 2015.

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