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.

Who should get the money in Moorhead?


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.