Who's tired of reading about perverts and predators roaming the sidelines of college sports?
Everyone? Better get used to it, because the biggest fear of Athletic Directors everywhere is that this is going to end up looking like the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, which have caused the Vatican to start selling jewel real estate to pay all the bills and settlements related to the claims.
Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but you can advise your senior team to learn one thing from the latest case - Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University - that transcends all employee relations claims, from the most shocking to the most minor allegations. That lesson is this:
"When someone makes an allegation against someone you know, respect and trust, your job as a leader is to be balanced. If you lash out against the person making the claim out of emotion or because you think the person making the claim is a slimebucket, you lose. You've already screwed up an investigation that hasn't even started."
For those of you who don't know, Boeheim is the head men's basketball coach at Syracuse University, and has an assistant that has been accussed of abusing a former manager in the program. Boeheim reacted instead of leading when the story first broke, being critical of the alleged victims. Now he's in a world of hurt, as is his employer. More from ESPN:
"When the allegations against Fine first became public Nov. 17, Boeheim adamantly defended his longtime assistant and attacked the accusers, saying he suspected they were trying to get money.
"It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told," Boeheim told ESPN, referring to Davis. "You don't think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?"
Those comments prompted a swift backlash from victims' advocates, who were outraged by Boeheim's attitude.
Boeheim, who had been sharply critical of the accusers, has softened his stance 10 days after an impassioned defense of Fine, who spent 35 seasons on the bench next to Boeheim and was fired Sunday. The Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, said the dismissal of Bernie Fine was appropriate but didn't go far enough.
"I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well," Hoatson said Monday. "These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim's responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch."
As supporters of victims of sex abuse called for Boeheim to be fired, university trustees were largely silent."
It happens more often in corporate America than we care to admit. Woman makes a claim of harassment against the VP of Marketing. The CEO or Line SVP reacts and puts pressure on the HR Lead or General Counsel to make it go away. They refer to the less than stellar performance and reputation of the alleged victim. They make statements related to the case that are way too public. All those things come up in the legal proceedings that follow.
As Al Pacino once said in Glengarry Glen Ross, "You just cost me $6,000" (great link, click it - some language...). Except you should probably substitute 60K for the 6K. Inflammatory statements before the leader knows any facts cost money. Big time.
But - if you have a renegade leader who likes to make big statements and make the calls before they know all of the info, share this post. We're increasingly living in a world where that type of leader is going to be asked to fall on their own sword in nasty employee relations issues where they didn't lead.
Life imitates art. Business is going to imitate sports in this area.