The Hazing and Hazy Mess at Northwestern

If true, the details on the hazing in the football and baseball programs at Northwestern are deeply troubling.  How many times must we live through these college sports debacles before university presidents realize that college athletic programs are to colleges and universities what wealthy clients are to banks and toddlers around swimming pools are to their mothers?  You watch them all the time and you never leave them unattended.

Perhaps more stunning is the difference in experiences of those who were part of the athletic department.  Some saw nothing and others saw players forced to practice au buffo.  If witnesses were uncomfortable raising the issues related to nakedness, they could have hung their hats on  the legal liability of players practicing without padding.

Perhaps most stunning is that Northwestern was aware of the allegations in November 2022 and took no action until July 2023. In the interim, alumni were filing lawsuits and even the student newspaper was cracking the case wide open.

Northwestern’s brand spanking new president is slow on the uptake.  He has offered that there was a culture driving the behaviors.  The only cure for a culture is cleaning the leadership house along with a good portion of those aligned with them. The football coach is already gone following a bone-chilling two-week suspension (?????). He is lawyered up because $5 million per year is a tough gig to lose. And all this before the new president even had a chance to take off his cap and gown from his inauguration ceremony.

Therein lies the lesson for all college and university presidents — never mind the pomp and circumstance. Assume chicanery is afoot.  Forget the faculty and alumni donors.  Heigh thee down to the field house, stadium, or locker room for a surprise visit or two.  Oh, the things you will see, and the fixes you will need.

Dana Goldstein and Billy Witz, “Accusations of Abuse and Racism Plague Northwestern,” New York Times, July 30, 2023, p. A28.

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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