Read closely-the California State University system's "audit" of the San Diego State athletic department is a real bitch slap to the administrators. There is no talk about "gray areas" or darn nice guys getting a bad rap.
They went through each charge and, what do you know, San Diego State was guilty, guilty and guilty some more.
The report is not exactly a Grisham novel, in terms of plot twists. But it paints a fairly detailed portrait of the incompetence and jackboot mentality that so endears the athletics department at the Harvard of La Mesa.
Shining through the bureaucratic double talk is the jocks' general arrogance, the who-the-hell-cares-what-we-do attitude. Accounting? Hell, that's for the dweebs.
Investigators were responding to accusations that thousands of dollars of athletic gear, shoes, sweatshirts and those really snappy SDSU baseball caps, were disappearing. Reading the report, you get a sense of cheap hoods at work.
Even if you believe the university's fairy tales, it was a great little scam. The equipment guys were schmoozing with vendors and striking all sorts of deals. Coaches were selling gear on their own. And, dammit, wouldn't you know it, some of those SDSU sweatshirts and baseball helmets got lost.
It all reads like a Sopranos plot, the type of thing Big Pussy and Silvio dreamed up over cannolis.
The strange dealings with the athletic gear were the primary focus of investigators, but they couldn't help but stumble on to the larger issues, the culture that makes the SDSU athletic department so beloved on campus.
Item after item provided glimpses at how the athletic department operates. Locker room personnel were belittling student workers with ethnic slurs. Students were too scared to report NCAA violations. One of the senior department officials was described by employees as "quick tempered and intolerant."
Most damning of all, the investigators found numerous cases of the athletic department using its muscle to get students "special admissions," even though they weren't actually on teams. It wasn't just a couple of shady examples. It happened so often that the investigators decided "it was a process" for the athletic department to pull special admissions favors.
"Even the rugby team" got priority admissions, even though it's not a formal school team, the report notes. Who knows, maybe the rugby team needed priority admissions in order to beat traffic to Mission Beach for $2 pitcher night.
Pulling strings for the rugby team isn't the same as a rogue equipment man working deals. It speaks about people in power consistently abusing the power, with the cooperation of the holy and moral academic side of the campus. And it sounds like the tip of the iceberg.
Even the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial writers, in their own clunky Eisenhower-era prose, noted that the SDSU big shots should be "mortified."
Throw in a department that is running $1.45 million in the hole and some remarkably uncompetitive teams, and ya'd think that there'd be wholesale slaughter and ritual suicides as the administration moves quickly to assure the community that there is still a shred of ethics and morality at work on campus.
Hell, in Alabama they fire football coaches for going to titty bars.
But this is the Harvard of La Mesa, where there are lots of titty bars and no one is going to let a little scandal get in the way of SDSU wet t-shirt night. So far no one has lost his job and everyone seems shocked to hear anyone suggest that one or two of the athletic department honchos might consider resigning, you know, just to make it look right.
The university's response to all the allegations of the sleazy dealings included in the report was to say, "We concur." Over and over again the report revealed a department dangerously out of control, and the administration responded with, "We concur," and promised to immediately develop new "policies and procedures."
That's it. No house cleaning. No mass executions to convince the community that the institution is serious about ethics. They'll implement a few new "policies and procedures," which will make it clear that the university formally decries calling the towel boy a nigger, and then they'll head off to the barbecue with the Nike salesmen.
The administration is clearly hoping that by bending over and taking the pounding, the whole thing will go away. Maybe the FBI will find a few receipts for hookers in City Hall and no one will remember that darn report.
But it may not go that easily. Already the equipment manager, through his lawyer, has hinted that he is not eager to take the fall for the guys upstairs. "He hands out towels," the equipment manager's attorney told the Union Tribune, preempting any attempt by school administrators to portray him as Mr. Big.
Even wickedly cool policies and procedures won't address the key underlying issue of the report, a clear signal that athletics needs to be reigned in. No more of this separate empire. The report calls for an "evaluation of the organizational structure," suggesting it's time for the athletics department to come under the control of the rest of university, which could set up a mean turf war, if the administration has the cojones for it.
SDSU president Stephen Weber, who is not known for his cojones, promised the school would "evaluate" the organizational structure by May 30, at which time the school is expected to report back that, after careful evaluation, the current system is just swell.
Write to MsBeak1@aol.com and editor@