One of the big problems with the Enron collapse was that the accountants got too cozy with the big brass, lost their independence, and kept saying everything was fine. “Nothing to see here; move along; nothing to see here” got tossed out as an accounting concept in the reforms that followed the fleecing of the Enron shareholders and pensioners.
Monday night, the UW Faculty Senate made it clear to both Chancellor Biddy Martin and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez that there IS something to see here, and they want to see it with their own eyes. To put it in the words of my contact in the Faculty Senate, “Biddy sided with Barry at the meeting, but despite her objections, the Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the Athletic Board. Barry was there and left not happy.”
At issue is who really runs the jock department; is it a part of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, or is it a sort of separate entity that happens to be located on campus; and who really has the power to hire and fire head coaches - who after all, are UW employees.
The senators unanimously favored a return to the original, written concept that head coaches are appointed by the Chancellor, on the recommendation of the Athletic Director. Not the other way around, the way Barry did it when he named Bret Bielema his successor as head football coach.
The senators also made it clear that when it comes time to take a look at the Athletic Department, it shouldn’t be the Athletic Department alone that does the review. In other words, the senators said the Athletic Department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison will be run like every other department at the UW-Madison.
How un-Kathleen-Falk-like. Her response to the problems uncovered in the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center after the bungling of the Brittany Zimmerman cell phone call was to have the Dispatch Center investigate itself, and sure enough - everything was fine. Nothing to see here. Thank heaven the Dane County Board didn’t buy it.
The UW Faculty Senate is making it clear - the good old boy network at the Athletic Department is going to have to start acting like they’re part of the University…again.