Newhouse held a symposium Thursday to examine the media's coverage of notorious sports scandals, most notably the Penn State and Bernie Fine sex abuse cases that made national headlines in recent months. Reporters and executives with media companies were on hand to discuss the events, coverage, reaction and what can be learned from it all from a media perspective.
A couple interesting things seemed to come out of it:
First, executives from ESPN and The Post-Standard acknowledged they could have done more to help the needs of alleged victims in the case of Bobby Davis and Mike Lang.
Various PR professionals graded Penn State and Syracuse's reactions to the scandals. One professor gave both universities an F, another gave both schools a D. The other two gave PSU an F and SU a C- or C+ (Say what you will of Syracuse's response but in what world does Penn State not get a F from everyone? Worst PR Possible World?).
According to Robert Hoatson, the president and co-founder of Road to Recovery, he is currently treating an unknown victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a Syracuse University head coach.
"By the way, I am working with a victim of another Syracuse University sport — a head coach," Hoatson said approximately halfway through the hour-long panel. "The reason I cannot tell you who it is and why is because the person is not there yet, but the person did give me permission, just yesterday, to say ‘you can say that much.' And who knows, maybe he'll watch today and say ‘maybe I'll go a little further here,' because these stories tend to come out in pieces."
As always, all the Syracuse Orange community ever wants in these situations is for the truth to come out, for victims to find comfort and for offenders to be punished. The Syracuse Police have been notified of the claim and, considering the firestorm the Bernie Fine allegations brought down, I would imagine they will be thorough and sort out the details ASAP.
If it's true, then the University will deal with the fallout. And if it's true, heads should roll. More than just the offending coach's.
That said, and I'm not trying to be a SU homer here, but I'm going to need more than Hoatson's word on this. For several reasons.
No. 1, this isn't the first time he's done this. He was the first person to say that there was a fourth Bernie Fine victim and that his story "will be very powerful." That turned out to be Floyd VanHooser, who lied about the whole thing.
No. 3, there was a professional way to go about releasing information like that, and this was not it.
Hoatson basically just did a real-world version of the Saturday Night Live sketch about the sex abuse scandals. In the sketch, people just throw out random statements that may or may not be true about the school's coach, but it doesn't matter if they're true or not because once they're out, they're out, and the coach is branded is deviant.
In other words, every head coach at Syracuse University is officially under suspicion of being a sexual predator right now.
Professor John Nicholson thought so as well.
"I think that's a terrible thing to do," Nicholson said. "Get some proof, then make your accusation. Throwing stuff out there is completely irresponsible and I think is counter to the purpose of trying to do something about the terrible abuse of children."
SU says they had absolutely no idea of these new allegations until they were mentioned at the panel, but they made sure the police and DA's office are aware and on top of it.
And so we wait for the other shoe to drop. Again...