Consider this scenario: A married man with five children who works with young people, some as young as 17 or 18, has sex with a woman in a restaurant after a night of drinking and later antes up $3,000 so she can have an abortion. Do you think he'd be likely to lose his job? Not if he is ultra-successful Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. The coach has admitted that he had sex at a restaurant table after hours with Karen Sypher, a woman now accused of trying to extort money from Pitino after the sordid affair. A couple of weeks later, she came to him, said she was pregnant, expressed an interest in getting an abortion but said she didn't have health insurance to cover the procedure. Pitino coughed up $3,000. At a news conference Wednesday, he said he wasn't specifically paying for an abortion, just for health coverage for Sypher. Riiiight. It was just a coincidence that the health insurance was used to abort an allegedly Pitino-fertilized egg. While some allegations might be debatable, and others may be in dispute, the image Pitino is projecting now is that of an alcohol-fueled, scheming, abortion-buying adulterer. Is this the person you want leading the young men on a college basketball team? At Lousville, based on the statements of college leaders, that answer is a resounding "Yes!" This despite the fact that Pitino's contract has a morals clause that allows dismissal if the coach is guilty of moral depravity or puts the school in a bad public light. He's lucky there's not a clause regarding hypocrisy, because Pitino has always portrayed himself as a devout Catholic who even took a priest friend along on road trips as a spiritual adviser. But the "good folks" at Louisville are turning a blind eye to the coach's transgressions and figuratively wiping their behinds with the page of Pitino's contract that involves morality and common decency. After all, he wins lots of games and brings in big money to the school. And in college basketball, where elite players are gone almost as quickly as they arrive on campus, big-name coaches are the stars. If this were a second-year coach with a so-so win-loss record, he'd be gone quicker than you could say Jack Robinson. It would be ever-so-convenient for the powers to be at Louisville to send an underachieving coach packing without having to pay the rest of his contract while wringing their hands and lamenting his unconscionable moral failings. In America, we typically believe in giving our fellow man second chances. But some actions, by some people, are not forgivable, or shouldn't be. If an apprentice carpenter crafts a bad window frame, he deserves another chance. If you're a bank teller, and your cash drawer comes up short $50 one day, you deserve another chance. But if you're a newspaper reporter who deliberately submits a false story, you should be canned immediately. If you’re a county treasurer who pockets tax money, you should be fired and put on trial. And if you're a married father of five, and you engage in morally repugnant behavior with a stranger after a night of drinking, and then pay thousands of dollars to "clean up" your little mess, you should no longer be leading young people. We all fall short of leading the lives we should be leading, but certain jobs carry expectations of a higher standard of integrity and upstanding behavior. There are lines that cannot be crossed, behaviors that cannot be forgiven. Pitino has failed miserably in meeting those standards. But we are now a nation in which egregious crimes against morality that once brought harsh indignation are met with a shrug.
Labels: Crime, Education, Sex, Sports