Growing up I remember this character by the name of Smokey Bear. The Advertising Council created this cartoon in 1947 to serve as the ambassador for wildlife prevention. The whole purpose of Smokey and the campaign was to encourage people to be responsible, do their part and to take ownership of the world around them. Well, I think the same principles should be applied to university athletic departments. Case in point, the recent happenings at the University of Minnesota just earlier this year.
TwinCites.com reports that in July an administrator at U of M informed then-athletics director Norwood Teague of multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations against Gophers football players. Email correspondences state that the complaints presented “a potential pattern … that we should work to address.”
Ummm… If you see smoke; something is burning somewhere. I’m just saying
Beth Goetz, who became the athletic director in August when Teague stepped down amid sexual harassment accusations, stated that the athletics department holds mandatory training for all athletes on sexual assaults each year.
“One report of sexual assault or harassment is one too many and we took prompt, responsive action to investigate when notified of these reports,” Goetz said in the statement. “Coach (Jerry) Kill has a strong track record of dealing with student-athlete issues as soon as they arise.”
Now I agree with Goetz; one is one too many. This is clearly not one of those you ‘can’t see the forest of the trees’ situation, but keep in mind that if you see one tree growing then you can assure that the ground is fertile enough to produce more. Before you start pointing fingers, I totally agree with student athletes being held accountable for their off the clock actions, but the administration is responsible for not allowing the same issues to erode their athletic programs. So when it comes to institutions recognizing and providing preventive measures, such as Crossroads Decisions, I think Smokey Bear put it best, “Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.”