Dave Reardon: Imagine paying $59K to be told to communicate better
Mar. 19—The cost of the report isn't the real issue, since something produced by an outside entity that basically agrees with how UH dealt with a problem could mean the general public doesn't end up on the losing end of a big lawsuit.
We should all be a bit wary of a 570-page report in which the fifth word is spelled "Monoa, " as in the "University of Hawaii at Monoa." Apparently, the $59, 000 invoice for an about a year in the making by College Sports Solutions doesn't include springing for spellcheck.
The cost of the report isn't the real issue, since something produced by an outside entity that basically agrees with how UH dealt with a problem could mean the general public doesn't end up on the losing end of a big lawsuit.
In legalese, it could be a mitigation of exposure.
Potentially, it's a bargain. For each of us who pays state taxes, the report cost just a few cents. But what's the sense ?
For the most part, it's the same old, same old, we heard at the time of (and before and after ) the crisis that resulted in most of the best and most experienced UH football players leaving the program. Basically, its bosses (coaches, administrators ) telling unhappy underlings (student-athletes ), "Hey, we've got to communicate better."
Now it's official, because an outside source—contracted by some of the bosses—says so.
What do we know about CSS ? Not that much, except that one of its main jobs is athletic headhunting (how about a 2-for-1 discount in the UH athletic director search ?) and it has an advisory staff full of old coaches and athletic directors (yeah, more bosses ).
Maybe you are among the lucky ones who could just forget about the whole thing. If not, perhaps you recall one of the results of UH being called to the principal's office by the state Senate after the 2021 football season : The school's Board of Regents was ordered to report back after addressing complaints about the program, mostly coming from within.
The resulting report doesn't say—or, if you prefer, communicate—anything new. And if we are to believe it, it is that nearly all of UH's problems stem from communication challenges.
It's a great euphemism, isn't it ?
Communication has become the catch-all problem, excuse and solution of our times—not enough of it, the wrong kind, too much of it. (How many email accounts do you have ? If you're like me, by necessity you've got three, which is two too many.)
Football players say their concerns aren't being addressed ? Easy solution. Create a "leadership council " within the team that will relay problems to the athletic administration.
That already exists ? Then divide it up to make sure each class is represented. I don't know if it's just me, but maybe doing it by position groups would make more sense.
Communicate, communicate and ... yeah ... more communication.
The players had already found their own way to communicate—they voiced their displeasure with coach Todd Graham via social media ... which tends to get its message out faster than a 570-page report.
And then the players communicated some more, with their feet, to the transfer portal.
If you need a refresher, it's all re-hashed in the report.
The separation of church and state was danced around a lot in Graham's situation. The report does address religion, and noted that Graham was told to pray separately from the student-athletes.
If you wonder why, it has to do with power and leverage ; if your religious beliefs are not the same as the coach, and you end up on the bench, you might wonder if that has something to do with it, and you might decide to talk to a lawyer about it.
Religious discrimination can be hard to prove, but it's still a good idea for authority figures at state institutions to avoid putting themselves in positions that could bring about, well, miscommunication.
While we're on the topic of communication, the buzzword "transparency " comes to mind. I learned a long time ago not to expect transparency from management types who like to throw around the word transparency.
There will probably continue to be some coaches who employ a "style " that doesn't always come from the textbook of the Positive Coaching Alliance—and unlike, say, Bobby Knight, they won't always be "transparent " about it in settings away from practice.
But these days, they can't hide.
The CSS report tells us that no NCAA rules and no laws were broken, and all those communication problems seem to have vanished with the hiring of Timmy Chang as the new football coach. This was such a good thing for UH that the athletic department has been reported as having "embraced " the report.
The report also came to the stunning conclusion that building a new football stadium might be good for morale.
You can't pay for advice like that. Hey, wait ... we just did.