Violations reveal lack of leadership

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, June 11, 2009

The NCAA levied its long-awaited penalty upon the University of Alabama Thursday, handing down penalties and probations associated with a rules violation involving textbooks.

More than 200 students and 16 different athletic programs from football to women’s golf were involved. In the penalties, the school will have to pay a small fine and go through three years of probation but may have to forfeit as many as 21 football games played between 2005 and 2007.

For this, there is no excuse and no penalty large enough for the program.

I—admittedly—am an Alabama fan. I have been for as long as I can remember and will continue to be so. This rules violation and resulting penalties will not change my fandom nor did the two other rounds of probations and penalties that have been handed down since 1995.

The argument many will make is that no one was hurt in this process and that the actions of these athletes in any sport never produced an illegal advantage over their opponents. The only proof is to just look back on the Mike Shula years at Alabama.

But, what this does prove is that there is a lack of true leadership at the highest levels of Alabama athletics—a place firmly reserved for longtime athletics director Mal Moore.

If this problem had been restricted to the football program, then the blame would have been placed at the feet of the head football coaches—in this case, Shula and Nick Saban. As it played out, though, Saban suspended the football players involved once it was shown they were involved.

But, this problem was tremendously spread out among nearly every athletics program the university has.

And, that shows only one thing.

Mal Moore should be asked to step down as athletics director. This is a reflection on his leadership and attention to detail. Yes, he has proven to be a great fundraiser and program developer, but at what cost?

In his tenure, NCAA investigations have come more regularly than SEC titles, and for that there is no excuse.

True leadership begins at the top, and in this case, correcting this problem also begins at the top.