I am not a journalist. I am a sports fan, a Rutgers fan. I write stuff about Rutgers sports. And I can condemn or defend Rutgers, as needed. That being said....
Remember a little while back when I had an issue with a certain Gannett writer? Well, I have an issue - again - with writers who write stories for....I don't know why.
Here's the tweet that got me started:
Can Rutgers sports improve its ethics? A Q&A with new athletic director https://t.co/ei7yFmFSAh #ChopNation— Rutgers Football (@NJ_RutgersFB) January 31, 2016
You read that and you think, holy scandal, Batman. Rutgers is in trouble. Well, yes and no.
Football and Kyle Flood certainly had their issues last year. But what else?
The Q & A by nj.com's investigative reporter Kelly Heyboer - at least what was published - listed five questions. Sounds like a really "in depth" exercise. One of the questions dealt with Hobbs' activity with Chris Christie and the Bridgegate scandal. Okay, now we have four questions left to cover Rutgers' ethics issues. I'm sure we'll uncover great scandals "on the Banks."
Another question from Heyboer:
But, former football coach Kyle Flood admitted he skipped the mandatory ethics training, according to the investigation into his attempt to get a player's grade changed. Right?
Uh, a little late to the party. In essence, she was asking Hobbs if he was squaring Flood's actions with what he had found at Rutgers in terms of ethics. Which by the way, was this:
I've been incredibly impressed with the people that I've met, both the administrators in the department [sic]. They all want to do things in the right way. They work hard. They are very dedicated people. Coaches who I've had a little bit of time to spend time with, they are committed to that [ethical conduct].
Let me check my reading: we're talking to the man who was brought in by University President Bob Barchi and was touted as someone who had a "deep background in ethics." And he found everyone - save Flood - to be really on board in doing things ethically.
Why are we writing this story?
So, back to Heyboer's questions. The rest that were in the story were these:
- What are your first impressions about the ethical culture in the athletics department? Gave you Hobbs' answer above
- What message are you giving to coaches and athletes? Said Hobbs: "It's an ethic. I always aspire to that. Again, we're human and things happen. But we should always try to do things the right way."
- How important is improving Rutgers' ethical reputation? Uhh, any of you want to answer this probing question? And aside from jettisoning Flood, what are we actually improving? And Hobbs' response simply said he understands today's landscape.
The tweet was a tease. The story was pretty empty. Even one of the commenters - which I generally try to avoid - indicated the same thing:
This is such a stupid piece. Rutgers does run a very clean program and always has. A couple of hichops this past year does not make for a dirty program. Show me a program that doesn't from time to time have a little "issue". Penn State? Ohio State? Alabama? Florida State? Come on, lets stop this garbage reporting!
But, don't take my word on it...read the piece for yourself. Then tell me if I'm wrong. I'm a big boy, I can take it.
Now, I'm willing to bet that the full interview had more than five questions. But you would think that the most critical, the most pithy questions, would be the ones that get published. And this is it?
My take on the story: you want to talk with the new AD about ethics in Rutgers athletics. But the only thing you can point out is the old news about the problems from last year in football.
Pretty much says that there really aren't any other ethical issues within Rutgers athletics.
Point. Set. Match.