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For the good of Auburn, Jacobs should go

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In today's Auburn Plainsman, editorial board.

http://www.theplainsman.com/article/2017/09/editorial-for-the-good-of-auburn-jay-jacobs-should-go

A driving force in many stories of institutional struggle is the specter of inappropriate sexual appetite, which is often coupled with an unhealthy power dynamic between the perpetrator and victim. And to wrap it all up, there are the inevitable attempts to hide the whole affair.

This specter haunts Auburn University, specifically our softball team. Players have accused the coaching staff of sexual misconduct, along with physical and emotional abuse.

The issue began to loom large after ESPN published a piece quoting current and former players who detailed the allegations: inappropriate sexual behavior from assistant coach Corey Myers toward players; threats from Meredith Jenkins, athletics executive associate director and senior women’s administrator, made to suppress evidence of such relationships.

Later, our reporting detailed allegations from players who were forced to practice after surgery before being released by medical professionals and others who were directed to use untreated hot and cold tubs that caused pus-filled bumps that later required medical treatment.

On top of all of this, the players went repeatedly to Jenkins, who herself is a Title IX deputy coordinator, and athletics director Jay Jacobs. And the players and their families said they were met with nothing but indifference or even contempt.

Back in September 2016, official ethics complaints were filed by several anonymous players.

Along with being an early challenge for Auburn’s new president, Steven Leath, this institutional issue casts a shadow over Jacobs’ tenure and casts doubt about the Athletics Department’s ability to care for its players.

In a letter to The Plainsman, Jacobs explained how he’s carefully walked a line between, in his mind, behaving as a father would toward the women on the softball team and making appropriate changes to the coaching staff.

In his letter, Jacobs maintains this act involved reaching a balance between respecting privacy and taking action, and in framing his actions that way, he’s attempted to paint himself as both a kind father-figure and a reasonable administrator. We believe, if the players’ stories are true, that he was neither.

Ostensibly, Jacobs’ lack of action throughout the year was an effort to try to protect the softball players, whom he cast as his daughters in his damage-control letter, which not only was sent to The Plainsman but athletic boosters, too, who must undoubtedly have their own concerns.

But good intentions aside, Jacob’s handling of the allegations has been at best negligent and at worst crooked, and he needs to step down or be removed from his position so Auburn can move forward. Jenkins, who appears not to have done her job as an advocate for victims, should go with him.

The problems stemming from the Myers should’ve been dealt with long ago — before March when the younger Myers left the team and especially before this past August when the elder Myers followed suit. Six months is far too long for complaints to be circulating and far too long for nothing to have been done about either of the coaches.

Allowing these coaches to stay on staff for so long may have been helpful with respect to maintaining a winning softball team — it could have ruined the season if both coaches left — but the role of the Athletics Department is not only to maximize a team’s record.

Even more important is their obligation to treat student-athletes with dignity, to listen to them, and not ignore their concerns like expendable machines whose sole or even main purpose is to make our University money. Because that is not, and should not be, their purpose.

Ultimately, this situation lands at the feet of the athletics director and his senior administrators. He is ultimately responsible for ensuring that his coaches are good, Auburn men and women who follow the creed — as Jacobs claimed Clint Myers was in a statement released when the head coach retired last month.

“The foundation for ongoing success is here because of Coach Myers’ love of Auburn and his desire to see this program reach a level of success that it had never seen before,” Jacobs said when Clint Myers retired.

Even if the athletics director wasn’t directly involved, they’re still called to solve these issues as soon as they can. Instead, Jacobs let this situation drag on for nearly a year before the two coaches were allowed to resign and retire, without a word from the Athletics Department acknowledging what happened.

Regardless of whether Jacobs intentionally or unknowingly allowed this to continue for so long — while some of his players were allegedly threatened and others were subject to physical or mental abuse — the possibility that this could happen again remains. And that is unacceptable.

This story may continue to harm our University’s image, our softball program and, most importantly, the lives of our student-athletes unless the University and its top leadership make it absolutely clear that this should never happen again.

Jay Jacobs and Meredith Jenkins should go.

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Just in case anybody glossed over it...

"...Jacob’s handling of the allegations has been at best negligent and at worst crooked, and he needs to step down or be removed from his position...."

 

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11 minutes ago, PowerOfDixieland said:

Just in case anybody glossed over it...

"...Jacob’s handling of the allegations has been at best negligent and at worst crooked, and he needs to step down or be removed from his position...."

 

That's an op-ed piece by a student writer. It may be accurate, it may not be. Facts have yet to come out but this paints the bleakest picture it possibly could. The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle between this and Jacobs' holier than thou letter.

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15 minutes ago, Mikey said:

That's an op-ed piece by a student writer. It may be accurate, it may not be. Facts have yet to come out but this paints the bleakest picture it possibly could. The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle between this and Jacobs' holier than thou letter.

Yep...having been a student writer long ago and local editorial writer more recently,  I accept that sometimes we...and they.... tend to shower people with our opinions ....even in the absence of facts. 

Indeed it's a bleak picture but this one line... Players have accused the coaching staff of sexual misconduct,  Is an issue painted with a very broad brush and indicts a great many people  (staff being an inclusive term) over what has mostly been charges from one non-player against one coach.  

The advantage of writing editorials and op-eds is that you are generally free to say whatever you wish....and rarely do you have to take it back if you are wrong. Been there...done that.

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58 minutes ago, PowerOfDixieland said:

Just in case anybody glossed over it...

"...Jacob’s handling of the allegations has been at best negligent and at worst crooked, and he needs to step down or be removed from his position...."

 

It is the "Plainsman" though, so you can't take anything that you read in it seriously, and I am one that was livid when Jacobs was named AD and have not changed my feelings one bit.   The paper is/has/and always will be, a joke

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Wow... that article is the definition of irresponsible. It borders on University of Missouri level of negligence allowing it to be printed. Laying out unvetted allegations, every worst case unknown they could think of, as well as some flat out lies, and then calling for a person's job because of those unknowns? I think the person who might need to be fired is the staff person in charge of the Plainsman, who totally failed to educate their writer on what is an isn't appropriate to include in an editorial piece. 

We criticized the school in editorial pieces when I was on newspaper staff, but we knew better than to make unfounded accusations or call for jobs when there was nothing to back up that call.

I guess we are training the next generation of "journalists". Makes me sad...

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Agree.  Even though I have concerns about the way this entire episode involving the softball program was handled; I felt this article took a lot of liberty and applied a dose of sensationalism in their regurgitation of previously published info.

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3 hours ago, lionheartkc said:

Wow... that article is the definition of irresponsible. It borders on University of Missouri level of negligence allowing it to be printed. Laying out unvetted allegations, every worst case unknown they could think of, as well as some flat out lies, and then calling for a person's job because of those unknowns? I think the person who might need to be fired is the staff person in charge of the Plainsman, who totally failed to educate their writer on what is an isn't appropriate to include in an editorial piece. 

We criticized the school in editorial pieces when I was on newspaper staff, but we knew better than to make unfounded accusations or call for jobs when there was nothing to back up that call.

I guess we are training the next generation of "journalists". Makes me sad...

Agreed. If anyone should be fired it's anyone involved with the decision to publish this hit piece. What hypocrites to call for the firing of someone based on fabrications and overreactions about "mishandling" and "crooked" decisions. The editors of this paper and the writer all "mishandled" this paper and are extremely "crooked" for moving forward with this hit piece on a University employee with a bunch of made up facts.  Unbelievable level of hypocrisy.  Unfortunately I'm not in the least bit surprised. Integrity is a four letter word in journalism these days.  

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4 hours ago, PowerOfDixieland said:

Just in case anybody glossed over it...

"...Jacob’s handling of the allegations has been at best negligent and at worst crooked, and he needs to step down or be removed from his position...."

 

I'm pretty sure you or someone you know wrote this. 

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The opinion of the student newspaper would carry a lot more weight if they actually did some investigative journalism and provided facts and sources to back up their conclusion.  Instead, they simply restate allegations made in the campus Title IX complaint.  Even though this is an editorial opinion, it is nonetheless dangerous when a publication presents allegations as accepted fact.  In fact, its very irresponsible.  Had they taken an allegation, interviewed those involved independently and presented facts supporting their conclusion that the allegation was valid and needed to be redressed,  I would give the opinion the respect it would have merited.  As it is, this looks like lazy editorial journalism at best.

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While I think Jay Jacobs should have ever been hired as AD and deserves to be let go for many reasons other than this, the Plainsman and just about any student newspaper's opinion means next to nothing.  

wde

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I am not in the get rid of JJ camp or the keep JJ camp. I try to avoid the politics of my schools athletic program as there are so many different opinions and agendas that it is not worth my effort to weigh in on JJ. I don't know what went on within the Auburn softball program this past year. If something was done improperly and covered up a head or heads should role or if the only issue was the coach who was investigated and resigned that should end it. I have no problem with there being an investigation based on these claims but it has to be an investigation with the sole purpose of establishing the facts and then presenting them. Then decisions made based on these facts be it heads rolling or exoneration or something in between. 

That said I am ashamed that our school newspaper has stooped to the the same type of journalism I am increasingly seeing from newspapers and news networks throughout our country. We have gotten away from investigative journalism and gotten into shock value journalism.  I am old school if you can't corroborate it you don't print it, or if you do print it you have a very clear bold disclaimer that you are repeating unsubstantiated claims.

You never publish unsubstantiated claims as facts not even on the Editorial page which gives some leeway for opinion but not for printing unsubstantiated claims as facts..

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Those kids and those responsible for the Plainsmen need to revisit the Auburn Creed.   Shameful.

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Jay Jacobs needs to go before he does any more harm to our sports teams and our Athletic Department.

Edited by auburn4ever

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On 9/26/2017 at 7:11 PM, auburn4ever said:

Jay Jacobs needs to go before he does any more harm to our sports teams and our Athletic Department.

Even if he isn't to blame in the slightest there are just too many fires and he happens to be holding a blow torch

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If Jay Jacobs loves Auburn the way he's always said, then it's time for him to step down on his own. But if he doesn't, then Jay needs to be fired. But ither way, he needs to go.

Edited by auburn4ever
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