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Felger & Massarotti

Felger: Comparing BU To Penn State Is Ridiculous, Ludicrous, Unfair

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Head coach Jack Parker celebrates the 2009 championship with his BU hockey team. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Head coach Jack Parker celebrates the 2009 championship with his BU hockey team. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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The following is a transcription from Michael Felger on the Felger & Massarotti Show from Sept. 12, 2012, edited only for clarity or brevity.

Let me give you a quick thought on the Chris Gasper column on BU, titled “Hockey-is-king culture was big problem at BU.” In the interest of full disclosure, I am a BU alum, as is Chris Gasper, and have been a big fan of Jack Parker and that program for a long time and I covered it for a couple of years for the Herald.

Gasper wrote a column which I think was 95 percent on the money. The other 5 percent though I think was ridiculous. That 5 percent basically compared BU’s culture to that of Penn State.

‘The distance between Boston University’s Agganis Arena and Penn State’s Beaver Stadium is nearly 440 miles. The schools are closer in mind-set than they are mileage,” Gasper writes. “The details of alleged sexual misconduct and the existence of an entitlement culture in the Boston University men’s hockey program prove that kneeling at the altar of a college sports team and its iconic coach is not something that only happens in less metropolitan corners of the United States. It’s not reserved for State College, Pa., Columbus, Ohio, or Tuscaloosa, Ala.

“It’s in our own backyard rink.”

That’s the lede to the column. He ends it by saying, “The real entitlement issue at BU isn’t just about sex, it’s the belief that BU hockey players only had to answer to the hockey program and not the school.Somehow BU let those become two different entities.In the process, the school discovered that it’s not as far from Penn State as it thought.”

It’s really just the beginning and the end, when he alludes to Penn State, that I just think is wrong. The rest of it, the body of the column, is absolutely right. And the line that I just read, that BU hockey players believe they only had to answer to the hockey program and not the school, is absolutely true and is a big failing there.

But stop with the Penn State comparison. That is ludicrous.

If one of Jack Parker’s assistant coaches had been raping young boys in the shower at Walter Brown Arena, if that assistant coach had set up a phony charity in the state to lure young boys into his orbit and then use the BU program to entice them into the shower — if that had been going on for decades and Jack had done nothing about it while knowing about it, then it would be like Penn State.

I said this at the time of the Penn State scandal, because it drove me nuts. I heard people say that what exists at Penn State could happen anywhere. “This happens at every major program.” Right? No. No.

What happened at Penn State does not happen everywhere. What happened at BU happens most everywhere where there’s major college athletics.

What happens at BU happens everywhere.

The story about there being a wild party after the national championship in 2009, with naked guys running on the ice and sex in the penalty box — this has become a national scandal? This draws a comparison to Penn State? What college football player — or high school football player, for that matter — hasn’t gone out to the 50-yard line of an empty stadium at midnight and gotten it on with some girl, with a six-pack of beer?

A football school like Michigan must read what BU is in trouble for, like a kegger after the national title, and laugh. They must think, “That’s what we do after the spring intrasquad game, bro.” The Kentucky basketball team must read about running around naked on the ice and say, “Are you kidding me? We do that after practice.”

Now please note: That does not make it right. It doesn’t make it right. Abuse of women is a serious issue, and clearly, what was going on at BU was over that line. The culture at BU is out of whack for what BU wants to stand for. No doubt about it Gasper is absolutely right when he says that Parker had to lose that assistant athletic director title, because he was reporting to himself. Absolutely right.

ANd let me go one step further: If Boston University doesn’t want to be like everybody else, if they don’t want to be like Michigan football, Kentucky basketball or any important college team, if they really want to be different and they want to fire Parker? Fine. If they want to be one of those schools, fine. Jack obviously lied about that party and obviously covered it up. So if there’s grounds there to fire him, there’s grounds there to fire him. I’m not downplaying what they did. Abuse of women is wrong and that entitlement culture there existed. I’m not downplaying it.

I’m just giving it some context.

By bringing in Penn State, you are then saying that that entitlement culture went to the levels where you would allow systematic sexual abuse of young boys for decades in defense of that culture. I do not think BU would ever do that, would ever go anywhere near that level, nor would most college programs. Most college programs allow sex on the 50-yard line at midnight after a national championship, as wrong as that is.

I just don’t think what happens at Penn State happens everywhere. What happens at Penn State happens at Penn State.

In fact, hasn’t BU sort of proven that it’s not Penn State? They’ve blown the whistle on their own players. The reason we know the details of what’s gone on at BU is because they commissioned this thing themselves. That was their own report. That was their own investigation. And there have been repercussions. Jack has lost that AD title, and now his job is in jeopardy. Did that ever happen with Joe Paterno? Not once.

It’s patently unfair to put those two in the same sentence. You can’t compare the two.

What he’s saying is that a singular entity, a singular coach, can become so powerful that you lose your way. But that’s apples and oranges. So any Little League coach who keeps kids out for practice for too long, and defers to the Little League coach, we can say, “Wow, that’s another Penn State”? No — draw the line.

What went on at BU is wrong. It seems like they’re being held accountable. Jack might lose his job over it. I don’t think anyone’s accepting it.

To say that the level of that culture has reached the level of Penn State or should even be mentioned in the same breath? That’s not fair. That is just patently not fair.

And I’ve heard people say that the reason this is being downplayed is because it’s just college hockey and nobody cares about college hockey, and if this was a major college program, this would be a big story. I disagree. I think this crap goes on at every, just about every, major college program. It doesn’t make it right, but this happens everywhere.

If Jack is going to lose his job, if BU wants to make sure that they are not like everybody else, they want to fire him, that is their right. But the culture at Penn State was so out of whack that for decades an assistant coach abused young boys in the showers, everybody knew about it, and they covered it up. They knew the charity was there to lure those boys in, and they let him operate. That is an entirely different universe than kids drinking too much and carrying on with women. As wrong as that is, it’s a different universe.

I just thought it was a bad analogy from an otherwise good column. I just think people are sort of jumping to that level, but let’s pump the brakes here. Enough with that.

Michael Felger co-hosts “Felger & Massarotti” on 98.5 The Sports Hub, weekdays 2-6 p.m.

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