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Friday, April 02, 2010

Kevin Broadus and Binghamton University - food for thought

Recently I spoke about the racial discrimination lawsuit brought by Binghamton Men's Basketball Coach Kevin Broadus against Binghamton University. The suit alleges discriminatory action by Binghamton University against Coach Broadus, who is the only African American Head Coach at the University, in regard to a secondary NCAA violation.

I further sought to contact Coach Broadus for an interview, to discuss this case and his views on race relations, coverage by the major media, the disparity of Black head coaches in colleges and professional sports , and what it is like to be a head coach. I received a response from Linda Kenney Baden, Esq. who is representing Coach Kevin Broadus in this legal matter, which states that he is declining to do any interviews at this time.

"Coach (Kevin Broadus) had wished to personally respond to you, if only to say he enjoyed your courageousness in dealing directly with some of the issues your article touched upon."


But the statement from Ms. Baden on behalf of Coach Kevin Broadus does give some insight, I believe, on the views of Coach Broadus.

"...he (Kevin Broadus) expresses the importance of availability of opportunity for young people, including those with sports abilities. Coach does not believe that we should assume, for whatever reason that a young person, won’t be able benefit from education access, while allowing a person with athletic talents to reach for his or her own personal dream. Some dream to become leaders in academia. Others wish to become accomplished sports figures. As so clearly demonstrated in the recent hit movie about Michael Oher, “The Blind Side”; had some of the coaches, schools, and public taken the position they have regarding rigid “standards” that have been espoused in this case, that gifted young man would have been a casualty of society rather than the person he is with the accomplishments he has achieved."


In regard to the issue of how Binghamton University has handled the matter of the NCAA violation - that Kevin Broadus self-reported - Baden states

"Yesterday, a local newspaper printed, as a result of their FOIL demand, the first public admission that BU has 19 coaches that have committed secondary violations. They have not indicated what year these numbers are from or what position or coach committed them. Nor does it appear, as far as I can tell from the article(s), have the total number of the violations been revealed or the context of any of them. However, the spokesperson confirmed, according to media reports, exactly what Coach has maintained: that no other coach has ever been 'suspended’ because of secondary violations."


Further lawyer Baden finishes the letter with

"As to Coach (Kevin Broadus), he does not seek to avoid responsibility for the inadvertent secondary violations that he both self-reported and apologized for committing. But he does seek fairness and equal treatment. You only need to GOOGLE the words NCAA+secondary+violations and more than 50 pages of articles will reveal how such coaches are normally treated by both the NCAA and schools. While the NCAA does not publish an annual compilation of same, there are some locations that contain overall numbers gleaned from occasional interviews. For example, there is one news article that has printed the following statement admission attributable to the Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA that secondary violations ‘are commonplace’ and further, for instance in one snapshot year alone the
“…NCAA received self-­reports of 2,972 secondary violations from 331 Division I schools in 2008. That’s about nine per school. Some schools report dozens of violations.”


[Note - I was later informed by Ms. Baden that the above quoted secondary violations pertain to NCAA football and not basketball. Given that there are no reports on this from the NCAA in regard to other sports, the quote does give some perspective on the matter.]

I checked the statement of Ms. Baden about the google search for NCAA secondary violations and found 129,000 responses for a total of 68 pages of items.

Reflecting on all of this, I have to wonder what effect this action (as is alleged) by Binghamton University is having on other aspects of the college. Nothing happens in a vacuum, especially at a college campus. If any administrator, teacher, and/or coach can be singled out and ostracized - based on race or any other factor independent of their character and actions - how does this affect their ability to interact with the students? How does this come out in what is being taught? Could this in some way be stifling independent thought or limiting what students might learn? What example is being stated clearly and in no uncertain terms if the allegations are correct?

It's been a long time since I was a student at college, but I imagine that observing a college treat a head coach in a disrespectful manner potentially for the mere fact of his skin color would lead me to have serious reservations about what the world outside the cushy confines of academia is like. Thus it seems to be a disservice to both the faculty and students. One that seems to demand resolution and open discourse - which apparently is not happening.

I agree with Coach Kevin Broadus that students deserve the opportunity to learn. I agree that a rigid view that appears based in bias only serves to hurt and not help all involved as well as those tangentially involved.

I believe that the world, and America, is difficult enough that students - while not treated with kid gloves - deserve a respite and to be given the knowledge that racially based bias (or any bias for that matter) is unacceptable; rather than not only being tolerated but enforced.

If the allegations are correct, then Binghamton University has done a greater disservice than just to Coach Kevin Broadus. If true they have given a future generation of Americans a mindset more akin to the early 20th century than the 21st, which is obviously not the purpose of the institution.

I thank Kevin Broadus for reading my original post on this subject, and in providing a response to my request for an interview via his attorney. He had no obligation to do either.

I do hope that when Coach Broadus is ready to do interviews again, on this subject or the Binghamton Men's Basketball team or any other topic, that I will have the chance to interview him then and provide that to you my readers.

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