Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

NCAA Football Corruption Not Exclusively Limited to Penn State

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Memoir: Wayne Flynt - Keeping the Faith; Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives

A Memoir: Wayne Flynt - Keeping the Faith; Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives

Ever the unwavering voice of sanity, consummate historian and Auburn history professor emeritus Dr. Wayne Flynt addressed Rotarians in Huntsville, Alabama, Tuesday, 15 November 2011.

Having won over 20 awards as a university history professor of 40 years, and being a Sunday Schoolteacher will do things for a man, including give him a voice to which many attune.

His commentary included recitation from his most recently published work, entitled “Keeping the Faith,” in which he shared observations from two familiar and intimate perspectives – as an Auburn University history professor, and Sunday School teacher.

He described conversation with Terry Bowden, former Auburn University Head Coach – whom also attended Dr. Flynt’s Sunday School lessons. Coach Bowden was dismissed from Auburn in 1998 amidst great controversy, the subject of which, had he exposed, would have meant the death of Auburn’s NCAA football program.

Dr. Flynt assigned responsibility for failure to a very wide audience. However, he excluded coaches from much of the responsibility by saying “It’s us who created that problem. It’s all about money.

In his text, Dr. Flynt wrote about the problematic meddling of former Auburn University Board of Trustees member Bobby Lowder – founder and former CEO of the failed Colonial Bank – of whom Fortune/CNN wrote that, Lowder has been accused of making backroom deals with governors and treating the Auburn football program like a private fiefdom. At various times Lowder has been at war with Auburn’s faculty, its student newspaper, its alumni association, and some of his fellow trustees — developing a reputation along the way as a tyrant with a vindictive nature. It has been alleged that Lowder made a death threat to one board member he clashed with.” For more background information, Dan Wismar wrote an excellent piece on the details of Mr. Lowder’s meddling in Auburn athletics, and Coach Bowden’s efforts.

A “pay for play” scheme involving 9 – 12 players who had illegally received five-figure cash rewards, and who were also receiving illegal monthly payments was brought to Coach Bowden’s attention by an assistant coach. Coach Bowden was then placed on the horns of a dilemma: Either immediately report the abuse – which would have meant the death of Auburn’s football program – or, as Dr. Flynt wrote in his book, Coach Bowden “could continue the pay-for-play scheme and take his chances of discovery or he could continue the practice and simply phase it out as players graduated. He decided to avoid whistle-blowing.

“Had the NCAA received the same briefing we did, I have no doubt that they would investigate. And if they found any evidence of what Terry alleged, Auburn’s football program would have been shut down.”

Describing what he called a “loss of priorities,” he remarked that Alabama‘s educational system and collegiate athletics have suffered extensively from power struggles within the state’s collegiate athletics, and noted that,

“We’re just the worst offenders. The SEC is the worst offenders. The Bible Belt is the area that is most likely to violate NCAA standards.”

Dr. Flynt’s remarks were not limited to football.

He emphasized that Alabama’s future will remain bleak if the state does not revise their focus.

Slowly saying “Alabama. Has. No. Future,” Dr. Flynt did not mince his words.

“If the paradigm in use in our development for over 150 years – low-wage, low-skill – underfunding education because you don’t need it for a low-skill labor force – if that paradigm is the paradigm that funds our public school system and controls our tax system, there is no future. Especially for Huntsville, Ala., and North Alabama in the global economy.”

Dr. Flynt’s remarks were not mere rhetoric, because he was recently called upon to provide expert testimony in U.S. District Court last Spring over the issue of inequitable funding of Alabama schools. He testified that Alabama’s property tax system was designed to discriminate against public schools in lower-income counties.

He concluded with an observation – not particularly erudite – by saying,

“Auburn people and Alabama people will spend any amount of money and make any sacrifice for our two teams to be in a national championship game every year. If we would spend equal amount of money and give equal priority for every school kid in Alabama, this state, funding-wise, has incredible possibilities.”

Yes, it’s true.

If the state of Alabama spent as much on K-12 education as they spend on collegiate football – Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide – the state would have a First Class educated citizenry. As it stands now, Alabama continues to languish in any accounting for overall level of education.

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