Friday, May 06, 2011

Will ESPN Reveal New Information about UNO - Or Just Fling Mud

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" series (hosted by one of my favorite sportscasters at ESPN, Bob Ley) will be airing a report on the changes at UNO this Sunday morning at 8 am, apparently focusing on the end of the wrestling program.

While the preview focuses on the athletes involved, the synopsis of the story says this:
  An "OTL" investigation has uncovered discrepancies between financial data that UNO provided to the NCAA and official statements made to the public.
The supporters of UNO's wrestling and football programs have been eagerly awaiting this report as some sort of expose of UNO athletic director Trev Alberts. Call this a hunch, but while I don't expect anything ESPN to produce anything that reflects positively on the analyst they fired six years ago, I'm skeptical that ESPN has found anything that dramatically changes the situation from what we know. A "discrepancy" could reflect different accounting methodologies that take money earned one way and credit it elsewhere.  For example, I was surprised to learn a year or two ago that Nebraska-Lincoln has reported losses on men's basketball.  Turns out that is because the media revenues for television and radio are commingled with media revenues for other sports like football...and thus, are not credited to the basketball program directly.  (But anybody making budget decisions in Lincoln knows that if men's basketball were to disappear, that revenue would disappear from the athletic department as well.)

Frankly, with the corporate titans of Omaha overseeing, if not outright leading, the entire review of UNO's athletic department, the suggestion that Alberts was playing fast and loose with the facts is pretty hard to believe. Certainly the World-Herald dug into the story, and didn't find anything. I imagine other media outlets did the same.

I do expect this story to take the perspective of the wrestlers, who are 100% entitled to feel disappointed, or better yet, abandoned, by their university. The timing of it was about as bad as it possibly could be. Win a national championship, then find out hours later that the program is over.  They have every right to be upset and angry; they did nothing wrong.  That being said, everything I've heard and read about UNO's decision convinces me that UNO made the painful, but correct, decision to drop wrestling and football back in March.

And frankly, I think I'll likely feel the same way at 8:30 am Sunday morning after ESPN's broadcast.  We'll see.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

well at least you are keeping an open mind and waiting to see the piece before making any judgments...oh late for that..