Donna Shalala's Willful Blindness

John ArmstrongCurrent Affairs

The University of Miami has become a great football powerhouse over the past twenty years or so, winning several national championships. It has also earned a reputation for problem athletes and bad behavior, both on and off the field. Last Saturday Miami lived up to this reputation by engaging in one of the most brutal on-field episodes of fighting that I have seen in my lifetime. Players from Miami and Florida International University, an upstart big-time college program, exchanged blows for several minutes and created a huge battle on the field that made for rare, and disgusting, video footage.

Florida International University announced this week that it would suspend all the players involved in this fight indefinitely. Almost everyone agreed this action was appropriate. Miami decided to suspend all but one of its involved players for only one game. The one game is agianst Duke, a team Miami could beat without half its team. This punishment is so minor that everyone near the sport is stunned.

So, how do you explain the leniency of this action by the University of Miami? Well, the president of the University of Miami is Donna Shalala, a former Clinton administraton official. Dr. Shalala told the media that she would "not throw her players under the bus" by overreacting to their actions. She also noted that she "refused to watch the video evidence" before reaching her conclusion because "she did not want to be biased by the facts." Her logic is truly Clintonian! For eight years our national leadership refused to deal with evidence and failed to exercise anything remotely like moral character and real discipline. The nation suffered greatly. Now the University of Miami, and these student athletes, will suffer as well. Bad bahevior will be allowed to go virtually unpunished and younger children will take note. The sad fact is that the message this gives to these young men will never help them take responsibility for their actions in the future, which only complicates things if they are to ever become productive and healthy adults.