I myself had to kick off this week with an apology of my own. I’ve written about it making mistakes and the way to apologize enough times here on the Benchmark Blog and in our newsletters, that it would have been hypocritical had I not done it. I also did it, because it was the right thing to do. This week, video surfaced of Rutgers’ men’s basketball coach Mike Rice both verbally and physically abusing his players. It came to light that this had been brought to the athletic director and university president a few months ago, but nothing more than a fine and suspension had been levied. Outside the Lines broke the story this week and Rice has since been fired. Here is the Benchmark 5: Things We Can Learn From the Mike Rice Situation at Rutgers.
- React immediately. Rice was suspended and fined when his actions were first brought to the attention of his superiors. The public was not alerted as to why, and Rice was back and his job before too long. Now that the public knows why months later, it looks worse that proper punishment was not given immediately.
- Be open and honest. Rutgers wasn’t transparent with what was going on with their men’s basketball program. As a result, the public is questioning their leadership from the top on down. You may look bad when you own up to an error, but it’ll look better than if a cover-up is exposed later on down the line.
- You don’t exist in a vacuum. On a university campus, or in a business, it may seem like it’s best to keep something in-house. However, in today’s world of 24/7 media it’s not a realistic expectation. Things can spread like wildfire. It’s important to remember than as isolated as you feel, anything could get out.
- Actions speak louder than words. Just a few short years ago, a Rutgers freshman committed suicide due to hateful actions towards him from his peers. The story of Tyler Clementi gathered national attention. The University has since implemented programs to support their LGBT students. It’s harder to take them at their word, when they allowed a coach to keep his job after hurling hurtful slurs at his players.
- It’s not always easy to do the right thing. Some have questioned why none of the players did anything about Rice’s actions. For some of them, Rutgers may have been their only opportunity or scholarship to play basketball. Others may have feared the repercussions for being seen as a whistleblower. Sometimes you have to be willing to do what’s right, even though if the consequences may be scary.
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