Auburn University is no exception.
To put together what is known, on Nov. 5, 2011, former Penn State University defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested after being arraigned on 40 criminal counts.
Now, fast forward to June 22, 2012. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of the 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period.
As if the actions of Sandusky were not enough, last week former FBI Director David Freeh released a report of his investigation to the public.
The report condemned former PSU President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, former Senior Vice President Gary Shultz and the late football coach Joe Paterno for the cover-up of Sandusky’s actions.
One of the most damnable things reported was the plan that Curley, Spanier and Shultz drew up that called for the reporting on Sandusky. After talking with Paterno, it was documented that the plan was scrapped.
Though Paterno may have been more influential than Auburn’s own Gene Chizik, it brings up the question of how much pull do our own coaches have, especially in the face of a potentially damaging scandal. Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs Scott Carr said Auburn’s rules and procedures are clear and unwavering.
“We have great lines of communications with all of our coaches, but the athletic department makes the final decision on everything,” Carr said. “We, of course, respect our coaches’ opinions, but [we] don’t allow them to dictate what we do here.”
Auburn’s athletic department has not made many changes to the way things are run in response to the PSU scandal. The lack of change is not from ignorance, but rather the continuance of practices that have been in motion for more than two years.
“It comes down to a culture that [Athletic Director] Jay Jacobs has created here at Auburn,” Carr said. “He has spent numerous years creating an environment that doesn’t allow illegal and immoral actions to occur. In all of his years, he has let the staff know if they see it, report it.”
Carr said the athletic department holds one mandatory staff meeting per month reminding its employees to speak up and utilize EthicsPoint thorughout the academic year.
According to EthicsPoint Inc., it is a simple and anonymous way for employees to confidentially report activities that may involve certain improper conduct.
“It gives everyone in our office the ability to report things at their own comfort, even if it is anonymously,” Carr said. “We don’t want anyone to be afraid to speak up for any reason.”
Outside of the athletics department, the University has also tweaked procedures as well as continue its means of preventing and reporting on campus issues.
“One of the first things that we did was put together a committee relating to minors on campus,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “They oversee the camp groups, summer athletics, science camps, and similar on-campus events that host children. They then come back to us and recommend changes. Their overall goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of underage participants at Auburn.”
Gogue said his office studied information, looked into procedures and policies to make sure its risk management was up to par.
Beyond the discretion of employees, the situation the Freeh Report illuminated is the actions taken by those in charge in response to a scandal that could tarnish a program’s and a university’s image.
Where is the line drawn between what is morally right and on-field production?
Carr said the line is clear and never crossed.
“We have a mission statement that has two absolute values on it: always tell the truth and treat others as you expect to be treated,” Carr said. “We always elect to do the right thing, even at the expense of wins and losses.”
Gogue said he is confident that Auburn athletes are not treated differently as students.
“There is (just) as much priority placed on graduation as anything else,” Gogue said. “Things like APR and GPA are constantly monitored, and we make that clear in the contract that all student-athletes sign. This is bigger than sports.”
If students would like to report anything that may seem out of place or illegal regarding students, athletes, coaches, or anyone on campus and affiliated with the University, contact EthicsPoint at 866-294-4871. Gogue and Carr said their doors are always open if a student ever needs to talk about a crime or incident that warrants reporting.