by Bill Johnson (bjohnson@gkbsports)
I don't know exactly what John Chadima did.
What I do know is that it was inappropriate. Inappropriate enough that he resigned his position in the UW Athletic Department after 22 years. Barring future legal action, his part in this is over.
I am worried about the ramifications for UW Athletics, specifically for Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.
The greatest coach in Badgers history has done a great job of continuing to grow Wisconsin Athletics since taking over for Pat Richter. The teams have played well on the field and they're making money hand over fist.
The Chadima situation could be his undoing and could set the program back for years.
It's not so much what Chadima did, or the fact that the event in Pasadena even occurred that has me worried.
What has me concerned is Alvarez' statement which was released on Wednesday.
I am saddened by the allegations that have resulted in the resignation of John Chadima. John worked for the University of Wisconsin Department of Athletics for 22 years, many of them under my direct supervision. He was a trusted and valued employee and someone I relied upon. To my knowledge and, as the findings of the review team show, this was an isolated allegation. That being said, it represents highly inappropriate behavior and I am disappointed in John’s conduct.
I am pleased that the review team found that our athletic department staff acted appropriately and swiftly in reporting the allegation. We have stressed to our employees the importance of reporting any allegations or incidents that involve staff members or occur in our facilities and I am glad the proper action was taken. I also commend our staff for their continued support of the individual who brought this allegation forward.
This allegation occurred during a gathering of athletic department staff. I am aware that similar gatherings have taken place in the past; however, contrary to the findings of the incident review, neither Sean Frazier nor I was aware that this year’s event had taken place until hearing about this allegation. The gathering in question was John’s way to recognize many of our staff who work behind the scenes and are not invited to other bowl-related events. I did not know that some of our student employees were involved. That is unacceptable and our staff will be educated about the inappropriateness of such behavior.
The first two paragraphs are fine.
The third is a problem.
In my interpretation, it sounds like the Chadima event took place after every bowl appearance, or at least often enough to where it had gained some notoriety in the department. Yet Alvarez and his deputy were unaware that the event was taking place? That leaves two options for Alvarez:
1. He really didn't know that Chadima was planning the event post-2012 Rose Bowl. This gives the appearance that Alvarez is asleep at the wheel as A.D., and if his Deputy A.D. didn't know either, it leads one to wonder who's minding the store at Wisconsin Athletics.
2. He knew about the event, and he's lying. I really hope this isn't the case. We've seen in recent cases involving Ohio State and Penn State what adding in a cover-up does to an already bad situation. If it's ever discovered that Alvarez knowingly lied about his or Sean Frazier's knowledge of the Chadima event, consequences would be very grim for Wisconsin Athletics.
So, why would they lie?
Arrogance. A belief that if they say it, then it must be true. A belief that the departments athletic success has created such blind loyalty that no one will even think to look in the garbage when something smells fishy.
Fear. Fear that whatever Chadima did is so reprehensible that any prior knowledge of the post Bowl event would make Alvarez, Frazier, and the entire athletic department complicit. There may be some validity to this fear, but failure to come clean immediately would make any future explanations seem very hollow.
Embarrassment. Alvarez and Frazier should be embarrassed. This department that carries itself as a standard bearer for the modern big time college athletic department looks more like one of the "outlaw" programs of the South if this type of raucous event is not just condoned, but planned by one of it's senior officials. The first reaction would be to make it go away. In this day and age, there aren't enough body bags to make anything go away.
Maybe I'm over reacting.
Maybe there is a way that Alvarez and Frazier really didn't know this event was going on, without making them look incompetent.
Maybe they really didn't know that an event for entry level staffers could include underage drinkers.
Maybe after 22 years, Alvarez wasn't aware of Chadima's "peccadillos."
I feel a little sick.
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There are no games scheduled for today.