Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Alma Mater and the Neuheisel Era

Rick Neuheisel, former University of Washington football coach, is a completely ethically-impaired scumbag. Barbara Hedges, former University of Washington athletic director, is a completely ethically-impaired scumbag. Jerramy Stevens, rapist, drunk and former star UW football player, is a completley ethically-impaired scumbag. And former King County prosecutor Norm Maleng may be dead, but I hope he's not resting easy.

I am so angry right now I could kill somebody, and I don't know what to do about it.

The Seattle Times published the first of a series today on the many ethical and criminal violations of UW during the Neuheisel/Hedges era. There are so many things about this that appall me, but I think I'm most disturbed by the fact that rape allegations were swept under the rug, both by UW -- my grad school alma mater and the school my two older kids attend -- and by the King County Prosecutor's office.

Here is the most appalling part of the article, about a rape victim who sued the school after King County refused to prosecute.

In her lawsuit against Stevens and the UW, Marie identified herself by her initials, not her full name. That's not unusual in lawsuits alleging rape or
molestation.

But the UW filed a motion in October 2003 demanding that her full name be disclosed in the court file, which would be available to the public. The UW argued that the public has an interest "in knowing all the facts involved"; that transparency is crucial when the defendant is a public entity; that "centuries of law ... forbid secrecy (to any degree) in our judicial proceedings."

A freshman when the incident occurred, Marie had become "extremely depressed" and left the UW soon after. She couldn't face the possibility of seeing Stevens or his friends on campus. She couldn't stomach how the UW had taken no action against him, letting him continue to play football. She attended a community college for five quarters, and returned to the UW after Stevens left.

Now, she couldn't fathom what the UW would gain from making her name public. The university knew her identity. It could dig into her background all it wanted. Her claims would be tried in open court. But she didn't want other students staring at her, whispering about her. She also feared "physical danger" from people upset at what she was alleging.

"I am dismayed that the University of Washington, where I am a student, would so deliberately and needlessly make my life difficult in this manner," Marie wrote.

Two weeks before filing this motion, the UW made the opposite argument in a case in whichit paid millions to settle a medical-malpractice claim. The entire file of that
lawsuit was sealed, with the UW and other parties extolling the value of privacy.

In the Stevens case, the judge denied the UW's motion to out the plaintiff.


Thank God for at least one sane and rational person involved who was not blinded by the shine from the Rose Bowl trophy.

Among other disturbing facts, Neuheisel won a wrongful dismisssal suit against UW for $4.5 million. And he was recently hired to coach UCLA's football team.

UCLA's athletic director, Dan Guerrero, said the school was concerned about Neuheisel's history of NCAA violations but figured that was in his past. More relevant was Neuheisel's 66-30 record.

"In the end," Guerrero said, "it was all about 66 collegiate wins."



The worst part is, there is nothing we can do. The two people at UW who were most involved in creating this situation -- Neuheisel and Hedges -- were fired, but never really held responsible. The people who followed them have been attacked for not fielding winning teams, which is happening largely because they expect more ethical behavior from the players.

What do I do to protest? And what am I protesting? I'm protesting crimes and ethical lapses that happened six or more years ago, yet they continue to affect the school. The school my children attend.

I wish I could contact the girl in the above incident and reassure her that all people are not like this. I wish I could create a situation where Neuheisel would actually pay for his behavior.

And I am so, so grateful to the Seattle Times for making this information available. Perhaps they can keep this from happening again.