Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tennessee's courtship of football coach Greg Schiano, botched because of his supposed ties to Penn State's Jerry Sandusky scandal, is a legal screw-up for the ages


Greg Schiano
(From Associated Press)
The University of Tennessee, in its never-ending quest to secure a football coach who can win at least nine or 10 games a year, has created one of the most gross injustices in recent memory -- at least in the employment arena.

Over the weekend, UT officials worked out a memorandum of understanding for Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to become the Vols new head coach. Word of the agreement leaked on Sunday morning, and protesters promptly gathered on campus -- with various political and social-media types joining in from a distance.

What were they protesting? Schiano, it turns out, had worked as an assistant coach at Penn State during the time convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky was on the football staff there. A court document unsealed last year suggested Schiano had witnessed Sandusky engaging in inappropriate acts with a boy in a shower at a Penn State locker-room facility. UT protesters apparently took that to mean Schiano had witnessed a heinous crime and failed to report it, meaning he did not have the bedrock principles required of a Vols' head coach.

With protesters blowing hot air down their necks, UT officials broke their agreement with Schiano -- booting him out of a job he essentially had been offered and accepted. There is a slight problem with this rush to judgment. Not one shred of evidence suggests Schiano had anything to do with the Sandusky scandal, not even as a bystander. The unsealed court document certainly provides no such evidence.

So Greg Schiano is unworthy of working at UT simply because he and Jerry Sandusky shared air space for a few years. What's next? Are all Penn State grads from that era supposed to be fired from their jobs? Does UT have faculty members or administrators who are Penn State grads? You can almost bet the answer is yes, so are they going to be fired? Will UT no longer accept Penn State grads in its graduate or professional programs?

Not only is this a moral outrage, it's a journalistic train wreck. I've seen reports that the court documents were from a trial; they weren't. I've seen reports that Schiano testified; he didn't. Here's how The Centre Daily Times, the closest daily newspaper to the Penn State community, described the unsealed court documents:

Court documents released in the summer of 2016 included a deposition from former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, who indicated former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley said Schiano went to him in the early 1990s "white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower."

Two key points here:

(1) This was from a deposition, not a trial. Depositions are taken under oath, but they can be filled with statements that would not be admissible in court;

(2) This was a statement by Mike McQueary, as heard from Tom Bradley, about Greg Schiano. That sounds like hearsay to the third degree. Even under the worst of judges, such a statement would not be allowed in court.

So, there is no admissible evidence regarding Greg Schiano's actions, and nothing about Schiano and Sandusky ever has been adjudicated in a court of law. But the U of Tennessee allows campus mobs and social-media cranks to make its personnel decisions? What a show of courage.

Here are a couple of other factors the public often does not consider:

(1) Even if true, the statement regarding Schiano gives no indication he knew he had witnessed a criminal act. A coach who happened upon a disturbing scene in a shower -- as Penn State defensive coordinator, Sandusky was Schiano's direct supervisor -- is likely to think, "My God, I didn't just see Jerry doing what I thought he was doing, did I? No way, one of the most respected defensive coaches in the country could have been doing that. I mustn't have seen that right." It's highly unlikely that Schiano stood there for several minutes, assessing the shower scene. He probably averted his eyes and hustled away as soon as possible. After a taking a few deep breaths, he maybe said to himself, "That couldn't have been what it appeared to be."

(2) Reporting crimes, especially when you aren't sure what you saw, can come with high risk. I know because I was sued for "malicious prosecution" by our criminally inclined neighbor in Alabama, Mike McGarity, after he was "acquitted" on criminal trespassing charges. (That's the Mike McGarity with both a job at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and an extensive criminal record; perhaps BC/BS spokesperson Koko Mackin can explain that soon.) I was absolutely sure about what I saw (and what my wife, Carol, saw), and McGarity even unknowingly confessed to trespassing. But Judge Ron Jackson found him not guilty -- after reading McGarity the riot act about staying off our property in the future -- so that gave McGarity the opporunity to sue, with the help of corrupt lawyer Bill Swatek. If Schiano had reported Sandusky as a child molester -- and Sandusky had been acquitted at trial, no matter how unlawful the verdict -- Schiano would have been subject to civil liability that might have cost him several million dollars.

I know from personal experience that reporting crimes is not worth it. Judges and prosecutors cannot be trusted to do their jobs, and that can leave victims or witnesses hanging. It's likely I never will report another crime. And even if Greg Schiano knew he had witnessed a criminal act -- and there is no admissible evidence that he did -- I would not blame him one bit for refusing to report it.

Who will be the big loser in all of this? Probably the U of Tennessee. From 2001-2011, Schiano compiled a 67-66 record at Rutgers, a school where it has been notoriously difficult to win in the modern era. The coach before Schiano went 11-44 at Rutgers.

Schiano probably would have done an outstanding job at UT, and he is highly respected in the coaching profession. But, hey, he once breathed the same air as Jerry Sandusky, so he can't possibly deserve a fair shake. 

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leave it to the Vols to screw up a coaching search this badly.

Anonymous said...

And there you have it. How Tennessee football relates to one of your lawsuits and an injustice you suffered.

Anonymous said...

Can't . . . stop . . . laughing

legalschnauzer said...

@1:36 --

Well Mr. One Trick Pony is back, the guy who goes to a blog written by Roger Shuler and gets surprised and agitated that it includes thoughts from Roger Shuler.

Congrats, OTP. You might be the strangest creature on the Web.

Anonymous said...

Greg Schiano has no idea how lucky he is.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your take on this, LS. Your a legal guy, with a sports background, so you nailed it.

Anonymous said...

UT will fire their athletics director before this is over, and the guy conducted a sound search and came up with a good candidate, who has a stellar background.

Anonymous said...

UT fans don't care about Jerry Sandusky or his victims. They are just pissed because Greg Schiano's name isn't Jon Gruden.

Someone could produce pics of Gruden having sex with a goat, and Vols wouldn't care. That's who they want as coach, and they are stomping their feet because Gruden doesn't want the job.

Anonymous said...

The only thing more hysterical than watching the Vols play a football game is watching them conduct a coaching search.

Anonymous said...

Hey, @1:36, you must have been the guy behind me at the Bob Dylan concert the other night. You spent the whole night bitching, "This guy is singing Bob Dylan songs! What the hell? I want my money back!"

You must be a real joy to live with, if you can find any poor soul to take on that job.

Anonymous said...

I knew when the Vols fired Butch Jones, that they would screw this search up somehow.

Anonymous said...

@1:36 is like the guy who goes to Mama Leone's and bitches the whole time, "God, I hate Italian food."

What did you expect from a place called Mama Leone's, Doofus?

Anonymous said...

Gruden's not about to leave that cushy MNF gig for a sucky job like UT.

Anonymous said...

What about Peyton Manning? He seems to know a thing or two about football.

Anonymous said...

LS good piece. Two more quick things to consider about Schiano - He was 56-33 in his last 7 seasons at Rutgers and he lead them to six bowl games after they have only been to 1 in their history which started prior to 1900.

Anonymous said...

Manning reportedly is pushing Mike Gundy, of Oklahoma State, for the job. My understanding is that Gundy hates T. Boone Pickens, who more or less runs Okie State because of his millions (billions?). If he's got Manning's support -- and T. Boone has pissed him off enough -- Gundy just might take it.

legalschnauzer said...

@4:08 --

Thanks for sharing. That makes Schiano's work at Rutgers even more impressive. I remember watching a college football highlights show a few years back, and they had a clip about a big win for Rutgers and what a good season they were having, and I sat up and said, "A coach is winning at Rutgers? Nobody ever wins at Rutgers."

The coach, of course, was Schiano, and that was the first time I'd ever heard of him. His magic touch didn't seem to transfer to the NFL, with Tampa Bay Bucs, but I bet he would have had UT challenging Georgia and Florida every year for SEC East title -- hopefully, along with my Mizzou Tigers. Heck, Schiano might have made the Alabama "rivalry" interesting again. But UT blew it because of mob rule.

After Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Schiano might be the top miracle worker in recent CFB history. UT had him and blew it.

legalschnauzer said...

Speaking of mob rule, I deal with attempts to have mob rule on an almost daily basis here at Legal Schnauzer. On certain hot-button issues -- Ashley Madison, Patty Poe's bailout on Carol's case, Jeff Sessions' corruption -- little mobs will form and try to take over the comments section. You can tell it's a mob by the total lack of facts and coherent thinking in their comments. I've seen bathroom stalls with some pretty funny or insightful stuff on the walls. But you get none of that with these mob types.

Of course, I don't know if it is one or two people making a bunch of inane comments or a bunch of people making inane comments. But you can tell by the inanity of their comments that they have a mob mentality. As happened at UT, you get a few pea brains who are high on emotion and low on intellectual octane, trying to force their will on others.

My trash box is filled with such comments from over the holiday up to today. Unfortunately, the UT administration listened to the Lowest Common Denominator. Kind of makes me hope the Vols continue to suck, well into the future.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people don't realize that depositions are quite different from court testimony. For one, a judge serves as referee at a court proceeding. At a deposition, there is no referee. Things at a deposition can come to a halt if lawyers reach a dispute they can't solve -- and they might contact the judge for help. But it's sort of an "inmates running the asylum" kind of thing. A court reporter is present and serves as an objective observer, but they have limited authority.

In the Penn State situation, had it been in a courtroom, there would have been an "objection, hearsay" the minute McQueary said, "Tom Bradley told me . . . " And Greg Schiano's name never would have come up. But in a deposition, the answer is completed, and the hearsay issue only enters if the information is used at trial.

Anonymous said...

The latest is that Gundy has met in person with UT officials. The story earlier was that they had talked by phone. I bet Gundy takes it. He must really hate T. Boone, and UT is desperate for a quick hire to make the Schiano stench disappear.

Maybe Peyton Manning has kicked in a few mil for the Gundy Hiring Fund.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who wants Gruden is s fool.

Anyone who thinks Schiano would be successful at UT or any SEC job is a bigger fool.

The revolt was 3/5 his coaching talent (he’s Butch with a better haircut) and the remainder was his association with the cesspool that is Penn State. You don’t spend 6 years there with dozens of abuse allegations during just that tenure AND see your boss abusing a child in the shower and expect us all to believe you never heard anything else and only saw this ONCE.

If that is true, he’s too stupid and oblivious to run a lemonade stand, much less coach a football team in any capacity.

He is not going to pull recruits.

He won at Rutgers when they were in the Big East and during the mass exodus of good football teams who were replaced with mediocre dogs from Conference USA.

He never won the conference and took the team to mediocre bowls like the Texas and Pinstripe. Woo boy.

Any half-assed journalist with a blog could do that.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:39 --

"Half-assed journalist with a blog"? Hey, sounds you like you have someone particular in mind.

Anonymous said...

Um I not sure you realize how bad this blogpost sounds. If you see someone molesting a little boy in the shower, you should call the cops. Saying don't bother reporting it, sounds like something Roy Moore would tell his victims...

Look I'm commenting in good faith, from a female perspective, and I think this sounds absolutely terrible.

legalschnauzer said...

@4:41 --

No, I understand how this can sound bad to some ears, and I figured that would happen. But I'm trying to interject some reality here -- about life in what should be an adult locker room, and about the law on reporting crimes. A few points:

(1) As reported via third-degree hearsay, Greg Schiano never said he saw Jerry Sandusky "molesting a little boy." He reportedly said he "saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower." Those words, plus a description of Schiano being "white as a ghost," indicate the younger coach was upset (stunned probably) to the point he didn't know for sure what he saw. And like most of us, he didn't stick around to examine things further.

(2) As a former sportswriter and high school athlete, I've been in a few locker rooms in my time, and I have a pretty good idea about the mindset of people in that environment. Generally, you've had your practice, you're sweaty and dirty, you want to get a shower and go home. You might be thinking about that day's practice, what was good or bad. You're not expecting to walk upon a scene where a grown man is "doing something" in the shower to a boy. In fact, you're not expecting to see a child in the locker room at all -- and that's where Penn State made a huge mistake. Children never should have been in a locker room for adults. At some point, Joe Paterno told Sandusky, "Look, I need a full-time defensive coordinator, and you either need to do that or resign and do your work with kids." That's when Sandusky resigned as a coach.

(3) This locker room was filled with football coaches and players. These people aren't social workers. They aren't trained to detect the signs of possible child abuse. Most of them probably don't even know what child sexual abuse looks like. Again the third-hand words of Greg Schiano indicate he didn't know what he saw.

(4) The public likes to think there can be no repercussions from reporting possible crimes. But the repercussions can be huge, as I point out from personal experience in the post. And I was 100 percent right about what I saw, I knew exactly what I saw (and my wife saw it, too), and the defendant admitted he was trespassing -- and we still got screwed. I would encourage anyone to think long and hard before reporting a possible crime. If the perp is acquitted at trial, he can come after you for everything you own via malicious prosecution. And it doesn't matter if he actually has a malicious prosecution case. Our neighbor didn't have one. But a corrupt judge can ruin your life -- all because you reported a crime. That is exactly what has happened to us.

People like to think, "I can be a good citizen and report a crime, and I'm home free." Oh no, you're not. You've stepped in a brier patch that might put everything you've worked for at risk.

I don't think Schiano made that calculation; I just think he was upset and confused. The bottom line with Schiano: None of us knows what he actually saw or what he did about it. We don't have Schiano's words, we only have rank hearsay, which never would have been admitted in a court of law. For a man to lose a job years later, on the basis of such hearsay, is grossly unfair in my view.