Louisville: Communication of Standards in Hiring and Firing

The clearest messages that an organization sends come through hirings, firings, promotions, bonuses, and all items HR. What organizations tout and say actually matter very little when it comes to ethical culture. What they do is who they are.

Enter the University of Louisville. In 2017, the school had a heck of a scandal when the NCAA uncovered nefarious activities in the student-athlete dorm. Call girls were present for purposes of, well, you know, but the NCAA focus was on the participation of basketball recruits in the dorm activities. Basketball Coach Pitino used the Sgt. Schultz (Hogan’s Heroes)defense, “I know nothing.” Louisville kept Pitino and the NCAA stripped the school of its 2013 Division 1 championship in 2017.

Fast forward to later in 2017 and the FBI basketball bribery scandal emerged. Criminal convictions resulted from the payment of cash by Adidas to the parents of recruits. Coach Piino did not survive that one and was fired in October 2017.

Enter football coach Bobby Petrino. His journey to Louisville came through his stint as head coach at the University of Arkansas. Here was a man who had a motorcycle accident with a young football staffer along for the ride. The two scrambled, and she quickly left the scene because the two were having an affair. As details emerged and the coach recovered from the accident, some lies were tossed hither and yon, and Coach Petrino was fired in 2012. However, Louisville picked him up as head coach that year. There were various events during his tenure, such as two football players and a cheerleader being shot as they celebrated the school’s Heisman trophy winner (Lamar Jackson). Nonetheless, these kinds of things bounced off Coach Petrino.

But, this week, Louisville put its foot down. The Coach was 2-8, and enough was enough. Vince Yyra, the athletic director, fired Coach Petrino with these words, “We owe it to our student-athletes and fans to turn this thing around.I did not have the confidence that it was going to happen next season without a change, and it needs to start happening now.” We will have none of this losing stuff.

Prostitution, bribery, scandal at previous jobs — those kinds of things bring mixed or delayed signals when it comes to athletic department personnel. However, one losing season and they are out (although exiting with $14 million takes away some of the ignominy). Everyone at Louisville understands how the game is played there — not football, obviously from the record, but the ethics thing. The rules of that game are clear and the result is one sad culture.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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