More Jackson County Opinions...

NOVEMBER 12, 2003


By:Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
November 12, 2003

This brou-ha-ha is nothing new
Regardless of what you think of University of Georgia President Michael Adams, he spoke the truth in the Monday, Nov. 3, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “My critics put athletics above academics.”
He just as easily — and just as truthfully — could have said, “My supporters put athletics above academics, too.” Deep down inside, the Regents —except those who graduated from Georgia Tech — want the Bulldogs to win as badly as the UGA Foundation trustees do.
And so do the nearly 90,000 Bulldogs fans who fill Sanford Stadium on Saturdays. Ditto the 8 million or so other Georgians — except that Tech crowd — who listen to Larry Munson rant and rave on radio.
I know for a fact that UGA, the mascot, has been wagging UGA, the institution, since 1949. That’s the year I first set foot on campus. There were about 5,000 students. Now there are six times that many. Change, change — the constancy of change.
But I digress.
The purpose of this epistle is to prove where our interests and loyalties really lie. Here is how we are going to do it:
Without regard to race, religion, sex or national origin, we are going to select the 11 most talented, most brilliant straight A students at Georgia and the 11 most talented, most brilliant straight A students at Auburn. (That’s for offense and defense, or — if you prefer — affirmative and negative.)
Then — again without regard to anything politically correct or incorrect — we are going to select the 11 most talented, most brilliant straight A students at Georgia Tech and the 11 most talented, most brilliant straight A students at Clemson. (Thus we have the SEC vs. the ACC.)
At high noon Sunday (the Georgia-Auburn football game is scheduled Saturday) we are going to pit these two talented and brilliant 22-member teams against each other in the debate of the century. The gory, bloody battle will take place between the hedges on the 50-yard line.
There will be no rules, and no issue will be off limits. The 44 scholars will go to war over peace, Iraq, religion, politics, abortion, ethics, education, The Ten Commandments, society, culture, the future of America; indeed, the future of the world.
You can’t get much more academic than that.
Admission is free. That’s considerably less than what 90,000 rabid Dawgs will shell out to see the athletically inclined Bulldogs and Tigers do battle on the gridiron Saturday.
You can’t get much more athletic than that. However, in case you have forgotten, let me remind you that it’s just a game.
Now, reckon how many will show up to hear 44 academically inclined students debate important issues facing our nation and the world? Let me remind you that this is not a game, it is serious business.
Nevertheless, I’m betting the “crowd” will include a few parents and grandparents, the debate coaches at the four schools, UGA President Adams and three or four other administrators that the president “invited.”
Just goes to show where our interests and loyalties lie. Proved it, huh?
If somebody tells you it’s not about the money, tell ‘em it’s about the money. Saturday’s game between the Bulldogs and Tigers will generate big bucks — immediately.
The young scholars will spend Saturday in the library preparing for the big debate on Sunday. They won’t generate one thin dime — not immediately.
But let’s look down the road, say 2020. Most likely, the former athlete will be in a menial, low level, low paying job. The former academic students will be the CEO or owner of his own company. The former jock could well be working for him.
Before somebody brings this up, let me beat you to it. A few football players at Georgia, Auburn, Tech and Clemson will sign contracts with NFL teams and make millions. A few of the talented, brilliant straight A kids will become teaches and be paid ridiculously low salaries.
Life ain’t fair, but that’s the way the (foot) ball bounces sometimes.
Meanwhile, back on North Campus, Dr. Adams is not the only UGA president to get caught up in the athletics-academic uproar. The brou-ha-ha is nothing new.
How many of you remember Jan Kemp? She was not head of the university, but in 1985 she opened a can of worms that caused Dr. Charles Knapp a headache or two.
Kemp proved that Georgia athletes were held lower to academic standards than regular students were. A group of concerned alumni, rabid football fans who feared the Dawgs could not compete in the SEC, much less beat Tech, pressured Knapp to stay with the status quo, leave things the way they’ve been since 1949. In a word, they told him not to rock the boat.
The president would have none of that. He raised standards for athletes and brought the wrath of diehard Bulldog fans down upon his head. After a football game they threw rocks at his car.
According to the AJC, this is how he responded: “Sure it was upsetting but they were drunk, and we had just gotten beat by Auburn.”
I commend President Knapp for seeing a little humor in a not-so-funny situation. Would that both sides in the current brou-ha-ha lighten up a bit.
Virgil Adams is a former owner - editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


Comments From The O-Zone

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
November 12, 2003

Glad To See The Indictment
I usually don’t write two issue-oriented columns in a row, but this week, I can’t help myself, and so if you are tuning in to learn about the further adventures of the diaper-clad individuals who reside in my household, I’ll get back to them soon enough.
We heard some really good news this past week, though you might not have had a chance to notice. Richard Scrushy, ex-CEO of HealthSouth, was indicted by the Federal Government on 85 counts of fraud. The charges basically state that from as early as 1996 or 1997, Scrushy directed an effort to inflate the reported earnings of Birmingham-based HealthSouth, then the largest rehab hospital chain in the country.
Specifically, he is charged with directing employees to commit fraud, spying on and intimidating those employees in order to get them to cooperate with him, and violating the new corporate fraud statute, the Sarbanes Oxley Act, by knowingly signing off on false quarterly statements last November. He has the distinction of being the first CEO to be charged under the authority of that new law.
He is also charged with encouraging a HealthSouth executive, William Owens, to take the blame for the illegal activity in exchange for a Scrushy promise to take care of Owens’ family. Owens was wearing a wire during the conversation in which Scrushy made the offer, and the financial officer later pled guilty himself. One can safely assume he made a deal with the other side.
At least 14 other former employees of HealthSouth have also pled guilty over the past year, and if you’ve been following the story, you’ve been waiting like me for the Feds to get around to Scrushy. Well, they got around to him 85 times it looks like.
The story is not over yet, of course. The Feds want him to forfeit $297 million of his personal assets, which they claim are ill-gotten. We’ll see how that plays out in court, because Scrushy, through his attorneys, is pleading innocent, claiming on “60 Minutes” that everyone but him is a liar. Incidentally, when asked the same questions under oath in Congress, he pled the fifth.
For now, he’s out on a $10 million bond, guaranteed with property he owns and almost 300,000 shares of HealthSouth stock. He can’t ride in any of his boats, planes, or cars, and he’s wearing an electronic monitoring device on his ankle, which is supposed to ensure that he stays in Alabama.
Personally, I think he’s guilty, and I think he should spend a considerable amount of time in jail, along with some other people. I also think he shouldn’t get a chance to go to a tennis court prison where he can cavort and plot with other amoral greedophiles. Stick him in a prison where he’s more likely to encounter remorse, if that’s at all possible.
The only explanation I can think of for his behavior is that he’s sick. He’s genuinely addicted to the winning at all costs, or money, or lying, or maybe all three. How else could you begin to understand such behavior? When I hear some of the stories about how he paid a private detective to look for dirt on both employees and board members, I genuinely get a sick feeling in my stomach.
The best cure for that sick feeling, for Scrushy’s illness, for hospitals and for the country will be an inescapable abundance of jail time.

Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.
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