Corruption and the student athlete (5×8 – 4/4/12)

Does it matter if college basketball players don’t go to class, money for nothing in Moorhead, the carry-on fee cometh, remembering a flood fighter, and today’s Norway moment.


Not since it told Target employees at Thanksgiving that they should be just happy they have a job has the Star Tribune been so strident while making a point — legitimate though it may be. In an editorial today it declares college sports to be corrupt:

That’s because everybody knows about the charade. These young stars weren’t really college kids in the sense that their goal was to get degrees. Their brief stop in Lexington was aimed at winning a national title and moving on to the truckloads of money that await them in the NBA. (As many as six Kentucky players are expected to be first-round picks in the NBA’s June draft.) They enrolled not so much at a university as in a “program,” which is how the elite athletic schools now describe their basketball and football teams.

The schools strike a bargain of sorts with the most talented young players: Come to our campus for a year or two. We’ll exploit and make millions of dollars off of you, and in exchange we’ll showcase your talent on the national stage so you can pursue your professional dreams.

In other words….

You know who’s in on the racket? The Star Tribune. And CBS sports, and all of the media that just finished making some money off the athletes. Go back over the last three weeks and count the number of pages in the sports section of the local paper dedicated to what the paper contends is corruption.

Meanwhile, the cops in Minneapolis are preparing for the “real” students to celebrate an NCAA hockey championship for the University of Minnesota. And by “celebrate,” we mean turning over cars, starting fires, and looting stores. But at least they go to class.

By the way, the NCAA crowned a new women’s basketball champion last night. Few people noticed. The networks didn’t cover it, there was little discussion about office brackets, and the Star Tribune buried it eight pages into its sports section. And the women go to class.


A waitress in Moorhead thought it odd when a woman left a to-go box on a table that was from another restaurant. When she alerted the customer, she said, “you keep it.” The $12,000 inside could’ve come in handy for the waitress, but police have seized the money, insisting it’s probably from a drug deal.

“Even though I desperately needed the money as my husband and I have 5 children, I feel I did the right thing by calling Moorhead Police,” the woman says in a lawsuit, reported today by the Fargo Forum.

Minnesota law allows the money to be confiscated if it’s connected to a drug deal, and the police said the money smelled like marijuana, and they won’t allow the woman’s lawyer to have the money tested independently.

A University of Massachusetts-led study released in 2009 found that up to 90 percent of U.S. paper contained traces of cocaine, according to the paper.


Here we go! Another airline has joined Spirit Airlines in charging for carry-on baggage. Allegiant Airlines doesn’t fly to Minneapolis, but surely other airlines, desperately looking for more revenue, are going to keep a close eye on whether passengers will pony up $35 to use the overhead bins. An airline spokesman says it’ll encourage people to pack lighter.

Delta is moving — albeit slowly — to basic-fare pricing. It’s unveiled a fare class that is for a seat only — no seat assignments. You pay for a middle-seat, basically. Or more accurately, you pay not to sit in a middle seat.


Back when Riverside Circle was fighting the Red River in the flood of 2009, this woman was one of the most charming people I met in a neighborhood full of charming people.


Eileen Trei’s job was keeping hearts and stomachs full, which she did — I clearly recall — with corned beef soup. She embodied the spirit of the valley, it seemed to me. As she served up the soup, she told me about volunteering in Saint Peter after the devastating tornado there in the ’90s.

She died yesterday afternoon in Moorhead after a battle with cancer.

“She was such a beautiful lady and will be missed by so many,” her daughter, Donna Morse, wrote on her Caring Bridge site. ” Even to her very last breath, she was busy teaching us lessons and making sure we knew she loved us all. ”


If you’re one of those people who vacation vicariously, you’ll enjoy this latest dispatch from Aitkin’s Leif Enger:

We walked onto a ship in Bodo, Norway, a city bombed to ashes by the Luftwaffe in 1940, and departed north through the Lofoten Islands for Tromso. Above the Arctic Circle the days were still short but with a haunting smoky afterlight that lasted until the aurora took over.

Northern Blue from Leif Enger on Vimeo.

Bonus I: The Saint Paul Saints’ new ads suggest a possible new slogan: “The game doesn’t really matter.”

Bonus II: 130,000 260,000 Americans died in the U.S. Civil War, the bloodiest war in our history. But it’s now believed that number is too low. (BBC)

Bonus III: Just one question, Texas: Why do you keep driving toward a tornado? (Language advisory)


The ACLU is suing a Minnesota school that disciplined a student over her posts on Facebook. School officials said the girl’s posts disrupted the learning environment. Officials at other schools are watching the case for any guidance it might give them in setting their own policies. Today’s Question: Should schools be able to punish students for what they post on Facebook?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The Daily Circuit goes inside the mind of the big-brained dolphin with a researcher who’s spent years trying to understand the nature of their intelligence.

Second hour: Two politicial opposition researchers explain what goes into the work of digging up dirt on politicians.

Third hour: Yahoo! filed suit against Facebook claiming Facebook infringed on ten of its patents. To bolster its defense, Facebook bought 750 patents from IBM. The buying and selling of patents is nothing new in the tech world. Some companies specialize and profit big from “trolling” for patents suing over the smallest infringement.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): National Press Club luncheon address with Deepak Chopra, speaking on the mind-body connection.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The Political Junkie.

Second hour: Is it possible to drive cross-country and never speak to a single person?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – This year’s unseasonably mild winter has been good for deer around the state, MPR’s Elizabeth Baier will report. In typical winters, deer consumer low-quality food and depend on their fat reserves to make it through until spring. But officials say deer are likely still eating high-quality forage, like acorns, and putting on fat reserves. That means deer, and their offspring, will likely be bigger and healthier this year. That’s good news for deer, but not for farmers already dealing with tens of thousands of dollars in crop damage. DNR officials are bracing for record number of calls from frustrated farmers when crops come in this year. In fact, the agency recently hired a wildlife expert to mitigate some of the issues between hunters and landowners in the southeast part of the state.

  • Jay Sieling

    some people might like a disclaimer for language on the tornado video. didn’t bother me, but I’m sure others will complain.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for the beautiful Norway moment. A great way to start the day.

    You might want to check your statement on the Civil War article. It’s a great article, but I believe it states that the death toll may be undercounted by as much as 130,000 not that that is the total number of deaths.

  • David

    Have you watched the Netflix show Lillehammer? A charming little gangster show, but also it is full of beautiful Norway footage.

  • David


    ” Two other restaurant employees who were working at the time said in affidavits that they also stood over the box but didn’t smell marijuana, despite both being familiar with the drug.”

    Sentence of the week.

  • Kim E

    I hope more people read the article on the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. Congrats to Baylor team and coaches, it sounds like they had a really remarkable season, and it’s a shame that they probably won’t get the credit and praise they deserve.

  • Drae

    I think the Star Trib is blowing the situation a bit out of proportion. Schools and athletes are making what they believe is a mutually beneficial agreement. This is in stark contrast to the kids involved with Penn State and the level of corruption surrounding Jerry Sandusky.

    There are also the kids who are not going to make the pros and know it, and use their scholarship opportunity to get their degree. There are a lot more of these than of the next-big-superstar type.

    And congrats to Baylor’s perfect season.

  • BenCh

    It should be noted that when the University of Minnesota-Duluth won the NCAA hockey championship last year there were no riots, car flipping, or fires… just a lot of honking, cheering, and drinking.

  • Fred Garvin, MP

    “You know who’s in on the racket? The Star Tribune. And CBS sports, and all of the media that just finished making some money off the athletes. ”

    And MPR and NPR.

    How convenient to exclude them.

  • Bob Collins

    Good to hear from you again, Fred.

    MPR doesn’t cover college athletics. The joint barely covers sports at all — except for the “boutique sports” — a constant source of debate.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with college athletics. They are what they are; everyone knows what they are and I’m not that interested in seeing a French Lit major on the Timberwolves.

  • JackU

    #1 – I didn’t see in that editorial a point made loudly by some of the commentators on ESPN’s Mike and Mike show Tuesday morning. The “one and done” situation is not a product of the NCAA, it is the result of a rule in the NBA that a player can’t be drafted before they turn 19. As the discussion on the radio pointed out this results in a symbiotic relationship between the NCAA and the NBA. The NCAA gets top flight talent that drives up the ratings and revenue for their tournament. The NBA gets stars that come ready made for the league with name recognition and in many cases the aura of being winners.

    So its not so much the students or the NCAA, but the NBA that is to blame for the stench the editorial writer smells.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Brittany Griner of Baylor’s ncaa women’s championship team appears to be not only a superior athlete but an exemplary human being.

    I hope she leads a life of peace and fulfillment, in spite of the potential challenges of the androgynous characteristics that are no fault of her own.

  • bri-bri

    I think the Saints’ “We Won’t Break Your Heart” campaign started midway through last season, leveraging the Twins debacle as only Mike Veeck can (isn’t that him in the ad?)!

    So long as revenue from college basketball and football enable benefits for *actual* student-athletes in non-revenue sports (and the majority of basketball and football players not destined for the pros), I can live with the system, but why the farce? Why even send one and dones to class? Call them “transitional athletic ambassadors” or something with a shred of honesty behind the obfuscation.