by Irvin Muchnick
A dash of tearful regret by athletic director Chris Hill at a press conference … a soupçon of scapegoating of mysteriously disappeared associate athletic director Pete Oliszczak … a belated acknowledgment that the core dude should have been dismissed (though not necessarily also handcuffed and taken out of circulation) a year earlier (but only for the booze!) — so goes the University of Utah’s modified-limited-hangout of a disposition of the matter of thoroughly loathsome swim coach Greg Winslow.
The term “modified limited hangout” refers to one of the 17 or 18 public relations strategies the Nixon White House adopted during the two-year-long Watergate scandal. But in full truth, it is unfair to pin those words just on such disgraced historical figures as Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, and Ron Ziegler. This phrase and others like it are staples of every corporate playbook — a manual now again on full display on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
In the previous two posts, we have critical takes on Utah’s “independent” report by NCAA fixer Mike Glazier (someone should contact Harvey Keitel for the movie adaptation) and assorted university board cronies.
As for local analysis, the toughest mainstream stuff comes from Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: “If Chris Hill keeps his job, he’ll have to do it better,” http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/56544315-77/hill-winslow-athletes-coach.html.csp.
Most intriguing is “Rumor — Chris Hill And The Swim Scandal” from the Utes fans’ blog Hoyo’s Revenge, http://hoyosrevenge.com/2013/07/02/rumor-chris-hill-and-the-swim-scandal/. This analysis, frankly speculative, rests on the possibility that the Glazier Report is part of a lengthy Kabuki dance by which Hill, some months down the road, will be taking early but face-saving retirement. In this connection, I do note that yesterday’s announcement was preceded over the weekend by a typically cryptic planted news article about the redesign of the athletic department executive flow chart, and how thrilled beyond words “Dr.” Hill is about that.
Whistleblower swim dad Matt Fiascone, in an email to me, stirred these afterthought bullet points into the pot:
“-Report is dated June 21 but released on July 2. What happened in the interim?
-News conference was held at a law firm—not the University.
-Media was notified that it would be released, but none of the victims that I know of.
-Has anyone asked what Hill’s employment agreement provides for severance and if the University feels they have cause to terminate regardless of whether they chose to do so?”
My own parting shot is an attempt to render this tempest in a tempest in plain English. Greg Winslow is a child rapist, an alcoholic sexual predator, power-tripper, and all-round bad guy who committed enough fireable offenses, before the final Utah Office of Equal Opportunity blowoff of the Fiascones and subsequent collapse of the university’s PR firewall, to fill a Human Resources handbook.
That’s the way of Big Swimming, which is not just about the criminals at USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, but also about NCAA programs, the American Swimming Coaches Association, the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and assorted other enablers of youth athlete unsafety in the watery world.