|Walker's actions? Inexcusable|
By Mike Greenberg
If William Walker remains the president of Auburn University, how could you send your child there?
I don't mean your offensive-lineman son or your point-guard daughter. I mean your impressionable teenager looking to learn about life beyond your living room. Could you even consider sending that young man or woman to a school that condones the behavior exhibited by Walker?
In case you missed it: Two weeks ago, Walker hopped a plane that belongs to a booster and flew, under a figurative cover of darkness, to Louisville to meet with Bobby Petrino about becoming the football coach at Auburn. Did I mention that Petrino is under contract at Louisville, and sought no permission for the meeting with Auburn's president? Did I mention that at the time, Auburn had a coach under contract, too? Oh, and did I forget to say that all this happened TWO DAYS before Auburn's game against archrival Alabama?
At a news conference this week, Walker admitted he put his current coach, Tommy Tuberville, in an "awkward situation."
No, he didn't. He actually put Tuberville in the best position any coach could hope to be. As news of the surreptitious meeting with Petrino found light of day, Tuberville instantly transformed from a beleaguered, soon-to-be-fired coach into a victim, a sympathetic figure -- affording him the kind of job security tenured professors should envy.
No, Tuberville is not the wronged party here. The wronged party is the school Walker professes to govern, the largest university in the state of Alabama with students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. The wronged party is the ideal for which higher education professes to strive, the notion that morals and values should be practiced as well as preached. If ethics mean nothing in the biggest office on campus, how can they be expected to matter in the classrooms, or the laboratories, or the fraternity houses?
Not long ago, Myles Brand, the president of the NCAA, bemoaned the "professionalization" of college sports. I wonder what he must think of the Auburn situation.
This isn't a coach making an illegal recruiting visit, or an athletic director cajoling a professor into raising a grade, or a deep-pocketed "friend of the program" leasing a car to a running back's mother. This is the man in the alpha position of the whole kit-and-caboodle doing a bad impersonation of a Watergate burglar getting caught with his pants down.
Actually, this may be the best illustration ever of the inadequacy of Brand's position. At the end of the day, what can he do to Walker? Brand isn't Walker's boss; the opposite is true. You can bet that if Brand was ever caught in an equivalent act, he would be dismissed immediately. And Walker would be among those doing the firing.
Let's face it, college sports are exactly what Brand says he doesn't want them to be: a minor-league system for the NBA and NFL. It's high time we acknowledge that and get on with our lives. Then, when coaches cheat to save their jobs, we won't feel disappointed. When athletes pass classes they never bother to attend, we won't be surprised. When the quarterback drives a nicer car than the provost, we'll just ask for a ride.
But none of that should excuse Dr. Walker. And nothing should save him. I don't believe everyone in life deserves a second chance. Sometimes people do things that so expose what they are at their core that they render themselves permanently unfit. That's particularly true in the case of a man whose responsibility is to oversee the molding of the future of our country. Dr. William Walker has violated the trust placed in him and should pay for that with his job, immediately.
Could you send your child to Auburn, otherwise?
Mike Greenberg co-hosts ESPN Radio's Morning Show with Mike Golic and frequently anchors SportsCenter.