UF reached top 5 status in September. But as the semester progressed, our staff uncovered news beyond the university’s nagging pursuit of rank. Our reporters were busy covering the gaps in university’s decisions that made national headlines.
Our sports desk uncovered the abuse of a former women’s basketball coach, and our university desk has spent the last weeks breaking down the university’s handling of UF professors testifying against the state and the resulting accreditation investigation.
This coverage unveiled a common theme: The university and its leadership need to take more responsibility for the effects of its actions.
Keeping professors from their freedom of speech and overlooking abusive behavior in sports, UF’s administration has disappointed its community — and everyone watching. These actions do not reflect a top 5 university, nationally recognized for its research and achievements.
UF barred multiple professors from testifying against the state of Florida. When it came to light in early November, the university took corrective action fast. Alumni started hesitating with their checkbooks, but that only scraped the surface of UF’s reputation.
On Nov. 23, UF President Kent Fuchs sent an email to the university community announcing his task force’s recommendations to fix their conflict of interest policy. Their decisions took some steps but left the door open for more issues — just like the one that got them here in the first place.
Ask any of the professors involved, and they’ll tell you UF did not go far enough. The recommendations of the task force were a band-aid approach in the eyes of these professors, many of whom are in active litigation against the university over this issue.
At least everything is great with Gators sports, right? Athletic Director Scott Stricklin just nailed the hire for head football coach, the basketball team looks poised to make a big run this season and women’s athletics just celebrated its 50th year at UF.
That’s all great, except Stricklin has yet to comment on the ongoing developments with The Alligator’s report on abusive behavior from former women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer. When our report was first published, Stricklin met with four reporters of his choosing to respond.
The Alligator was not included in the closed-door meeting, despite breaking the story. That is unacceptable. You might try to stop professors from doing their job, but it’s against the Constitution to try to stop us from doing ours.
Weeks later, when Stricklin fired former head football coach Dan Mullen, he was forced to face the media for a press conference. When asked, he refused to comment on the situation.
Take some responsibility for what happened. Answer our questions. Players who experienced abuse under Newbauer depicted suicidal episodes and the experience degraded their mental health. Yet, mum's the word from university leadership on it.
Stricklin likes to tout the “Gator Standard” for the athletic department, but if this is what the standard is, that is pathetic.
It’s embarrassing a university that touts its excellent journalism program would punish its own students for doing good journalism. It is embarrassing a university that prides itself on the excellence of its faculty silences professors from speaking on their expertise. It’s embarrassing the leadership at a top 5 university acts this way.
Do better, UF.
The Alligator Editorial Board is composed of the editor-in-chief, the engagement managing editor, the digital managing editor and the opinions editor.