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Monday, July 23, 2012


E-Vangel Newsletter
July 23, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “A Cautionary Tale”

As a devoted college football fan and student of integrity, I just spent the last hour or so participating in one of the most significant public classrooms on integrity our nation has ever witnessed.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has just announced sanctions on the Penn State football program. I quit counting the number of times I heard the words integrity, values, principles, ethics and ideals mentioned. All of these components of integrity are topics I have been addressing for the past four years, and have documented in my new book I am writing, Simple Steps to Integrity: Connecting How You Think, What You Do, Who You Are”.

My purpose here is not to cast stones at Penn State. I know it is a great academic institution. But it MUST serve as “A Cautionary Tale” of how integrity (both institutional and personal) must be upheld; for once it is lost, the consequences are magnified 1000-fold.

Among this morning’s comments that stood out to me were:

“Too Big To Fail”
The football program at Penn State (and at many other schools) has become “the tail that wags the dog”. Our priorities are out of order when the Mathematics Professor struggles to make $60,000 a year, and is threatened with a “pink slip” every year, while the football coaches make $6 million on guaranteed multi-year contracts, and the stadium is getting a $100 million makeover. (I know one coach who received $3 million for getting fired, plus the remaining $5 million a year for two years for doing nothing!) Really? What does that say about our values and principles?

Wasn’t “too big to fail” what they said about the banks and Wall Street in 2008? When any institution, including the church, gets so big and so great a “cash cow” that morals are set aside (for God’s sake – they were molesting little children), then it is just TOO BIG.

“Win at all costs mentaility”
The attitude that you can cut corners, tell little white lies, cheat, or break the law for the goal of getting a win (whether on the gridiron or on the balance sheet) is a recipe for disaster. The “moral culture” (another term used today) that allows violating ethics and integrity for the sake of getting “a win” will ultimately result in losses of devastating proportions. Remember the good old days when college football players were STUDENT-athletes, not student-ATHLETES?

“Failure to Speak up”
It takes the virtue of moral courage to speak up when we see something that violates ethics and integrity. Especially, when it might cost us our job, our retirement, or some other important aspect of our life. It takes a rare person with moral courage to “fall on their sword” for the sake of what is right. But they gain far more than they lose. It is much worse, as we see with Penn State, to look the other way. The Bible assures us, “God is not mocked. Your sins will find you out.”

“Integrity Agreement, Integrity Monitor”
PSU will be required to negotiate an Integrity Agreement with the NCAA and hire an Integrity Monitor to insure they are complying. I hope other college presidents are listening. It is never too late to start doing the RIGHT thing, at the RIGHT time, for the RIGHT reason, in the RIGHT way.” It is a sad day when great institutions are forced to hire Integrity Monitors along with their accountant and lawyers to ensure they are playing by the rules.

I have great hopes for Penn State. They are the poster child of what NOT to do. I hope they can set the example of what TO do.

And isn’t that what football is all about? Playing BY THE RULES!

Bless you, one and all, Brother Bill

From the Quote Garden
“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead.  But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.”
~ Current Penn State Football Coach Bill O’Brien~

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