By Terry Pellman
There are two things to be said about Southeastern Conference sports fans.
One, they represent a segment of college sports fans whose passion for their respective teams is arguably unmatched around the nation.
Two, depending on the situation, it can also be argued they lose perspective more quickly, and to a greater degree, than any other fan base on collegiate sports.
As a member of the SEC, Alabama and her fan base couldn't be in a better conference. It's a fan base who passion is unrivaled. It's also a fan base who has a segment that loses perspective very quickly and to a great degree at time.
This latest story surrounding the "textbook saga" is a prime example of the latter—a glowing example of some who have allowed their perspectives to be molded by the thoughts of others.
Then there are the others who have quickly painted people in a corner and proclaim them to the be one(s) who should be accountable. The problem with their painting is the use of a broad brush stroke which does nothing but cover the finer details underneath, the nuances that make up the entire picture.
The person painted in the corner? Athletic Director Mal Moore.
It's a sobering fact that the University has spent the majority of Moore's tenure as Athletic Director under the watchful eye of the NCAA due to probationary sanctions. It's also a fact that the face the NCAA's Committee on Infractions (COI) has seen most often this decade is the face of one Mal Moore.
However, holding him responsible for the reason the University was before the COI is the classic case of painting with a broad brush stroke.
His first appearance was due to the Albert Means fiasco—one we all remember all too well.
Along with the football staff in place when he took over the reigns of the athletic department in the fall of 1999 this was a case, a problem, he inherited.
Earlier it was mentioned how some fans have had their thoughts molded by the opinions of others. As recently as last night, Friday the 12th, well known radio personality Paul Finebaum was pointing to the number of times Moore has been in front of the COI.
Completely ignored in Finebaum's diatribe was the fact that these violations had occurred with people hired before he (Moore) took over the Alabama athletic department—a situation and staff that he inherited when he took over the position.
Alabama's probationary window was extended with another NCAA ruling where Moore was once again the figure head familiar to the COI. This time due to a basketball coach who had mentioned to two boosters in the Houston area that a high school basketball player was "for sell."
The COI complimented the Alabama compliance staff for the job they had done as they passed down the extension of the probationary window. Yet, this appearance is once again put in the same light as the Means fiasco.
Moore was there.
Again what's left out in this situation is Tyrone Beamon, the Alabama basketball coach who was involved with the Houston basketball recruit, was discovered trying to break the rules in 1998, before Moore took over the department.
A problem inherited, but dealt with by the person in charge at the time.
Now, with this latest response by the NCAA, people are once again trying place Moore as the scapegoat. One person made a comment that sums up quite well what some fans are thinking,
If we so much as receive a letter of admonishment, then Mal Moore better be summarily and PUBLICLY fired by Dr. Witt.
Painting this picture with a very broad brush and thereby covering the finer details of responsibility?
There wasn't just a mere breakdown in the system with these student athletes abusing the textbook distribution system. It was a resounding failure to do ones job that allowed this to take place.
Pure and simple incompetence?
Derelict of duties?
Let's follow the chain just a minute...
Every month the reports from the bookstore were submitted to the athletic department. An administrative assistant separates these reports and then sent them to an assistant athletic director who in turn, after supposedly reviewing these monthly reports for compliance, passed on his findings to to an associate athletic director.
To put this picture in the finest resolution possible, these reports were submitted to one Jon Dever, assistant athletic director, who was supposed to maintain a constant watch over the monies being spent and if they remained with the guidelines of compliance.
It was his responsibility to oversee the textbook distribution operation.
The report submitted to the NCAA's COI said that he had failed to check the individual charges by the student athletes. He did not compare the month to month charges submitted to the athletic department and did not check the charges for compliance purposes.
There are no if's, and's or but's about that last paragraph.
It was the University of Alabama stating that the head of Student Services, an associate athletic director to boot, wasn't doing his job.
Does it make matters worse that these reports Dever compiled, of work he didn't do, were submitted to assistant athletic director Kevin Almond who in turn signed off on them and sent these reports on their merry way?
It certainly isn't a prettier picture despite it being a process as easy as "Painting by Numbers" available at your local Walmart.
Is it a fair perspective to expect the Athletic Director of the University of Alabama to not only do his job, but to also do the job of Almond and when he's finished with that do Dever's job as well?
If the ol' cliche "the buck stops here" is an accurate cliche for this situation why is it Moore is the one being centered on and not UA President Robert Witt?
While a lot of football fans around the country are looking at the sanctions handed down by the NCAA as a slap on the wrist the biggest slap on the wrist came in the form of a letter of reprimand issued to Jon Dever as his "punishment."
It can easily be argued that his story, the overall picture of his career, needs to be judged on all the finer points including the improvements in academic standing we've witnessed from our student athletes.
On the other hand, it can be argued that if a person needs to be held responsible it should be the person who simply did not do his job.
The punishment metted out for that needs to be something far greater than a simple "letter of reprimand" in his employee file.
While putting this all in perspective there is a tone of irony found throughout.
Jon Dever and Kevin Almond were on staff when Moore was hired as Athletic Director in their current positions.
Two people who eventually landed Mal Moore and Dr. Witt in front of the NCAA's COI representing the University of Alabama.
Two people - inherited.
Also Related: Alabama Should, and Likely Will, Appeal NCAA Sanctions.